From its Puritan roots to complaints of rampant commercialism, Christmas around the world is been filled with traditions, old and new. Some date back to 16th-century Germany or even ancient Greek times, while others have caught on only in modern times.
And, among them, Christmas trees are one of the most popular, now all over the world.
Their tradition is long and rich, and has resulted in some modern trees that run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful, encapsulating everything that Christmas stands for, to something simply weird.
Thus, If you need a little help to get into the holiday spirit this year, get yourself a winter drink with some holiday treats and a tour of the world’s best or most unusual Christmas trees. These towering pines (or sand or bottle piles, in some cases) are decked to the nines and shine brightly for holiday season, from Florida, Brazil, Mexico all the way to Lithuania.
Murano artisanal glass is one of the most famous craft products in the world.
It has been made on the Venetian island of Murano for centuries, and local artisans were world leaders in innovation and design, creating some of the most stunning glass objects that the world has ever seen.
Today, they are still employing these centuries-old techniques and making all sorts of things from works of art, to trinkets, to household objects.
These pieces are characteristic souvenirs for tourists visiting the city and there are are a number of factories and some individual artists’ studios at work on the island to this day.
The union between Venice and glass is very ancient, it seems to date back to the times of the ancient Romans, even though it is dated 982 the first written testimony of a bottle manufacturer and, in fact, in the beginning the city was famous precisely for the creation of bottles and mirrors. Glass processing as we know it today seems to come from the East, from immigrants from Constantinople who brought their knowledge and techniques to the Lagoon.
But the Venetians have always been a creative far-sighted people and therefore they sensed that the incandescent mass was extremely malleable and suitable to be blown by mouth and shaped into hot. They also understood that it could be enriched with bright colors that did not change once the object was cooled.
The Republic of the Serenissima immediately saw in this work an important force for the development of state trade and offered in all ways promotion and protection in favor of art and its artisans.
Thus the importation of foreign glass was forbidden with decree laws and foreign artisans were prevented from working on the Lagoon. The class of master glassmakers became a protected and privileged corporation, and all the benefits they enjoyed were also extended to family members: that was how the Republic intended to entice and encourage the continuation of work from father to son.
But there were also many restrictions to which the artisans were subject to submit: they were not allowed to leave the Venetian territory except with a special permission of the Republic and, those who dared to leave the city without authorization, were banned for life from the profession.
Senate of the Republic in 1200 decreed to move all the kilns on the island of Murano, and it is always thought that the motivation is linked to the intention to prevent fires in the city, but in reality it was simply a way to conceal the secrets of processing, enclosing all the artisans in one place, restricted and detached from the city, far from the comings and goings of foreigners who populated the center, and far from prying eyes.
Of course, over the centuries, there were many advances for which the master glassmakers stood out: in 1400s the master Angelo Barovier discovered the formula for the realization of completely transparent glass, for the production of glasses and jugs, but above all of the first mirrors in the world really reflective while, two centuries later Giuseppe Briati put the flower chandelier technique into practice, a process required by all the noble families of the time and not only that.
The fall of the Republic and the Napoleonic domination were the cause of the decline of the activity, recording the closure of so many furnaces.
It will be necessary to wait until the beginning of the twentieth century for this art to be relaunched by the Toso and Salviatti, who rekindled the fires of their furnaces, giving a new life to the Murano glass, which has not suffered more setbacks.
And still today the master glass-makers hold their secrets tightly, handing them down to their children, as the Republic of the Serenissima had wanted.
History apart and back in modern days, in Christmas time Murano is also a great place to stop in and make a unique gift.
However, there is another Christmas highlight that is just as, if not more, important: the Murano Christmas tree!
This amazing Christmas tree, entirely made from glass, was first installed on Murano island on December 8th 2006. and is a very special artwork created by a well-known Murano master glass artist, Simone Cenedese.
It is the tallest glass tree in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, at seven and a half metres tall and weighs three tons.
Displayed on the island in Campo S. Stefano until Epiphany, it is a stunning, must-see attraction that is quite unlike and other Christmas tree in the world.
Cenedese designed another glass sculpture for the 2008 celebration, and this stunningly beautiful work of art is on permanent display at Campo Santo Stefano. Titled “Natale di luce in una cometa di vetro” (“Christmas of light in a glass comet”) this blue glass sculpture has become Murano’s symbol of Christmas.
Make sure to visit the island of Murano for the so-called “Natale di Vetro” (Glass Christmas Celebration), where visitors will be charmed by unique Christmas-themed objects made of Murano Glass, as well as countless glass Christmas decorations that are put up around the island for the season and the tree itself.
The event begin on St. Nicholas Day and lasting one month.
During this holiday event, Murano celebrates traditional glassmaking art highlighted by the Tunnel of Lights, Glassworks Regatta and Furnace Food.
The event starts on the evening of December 5 with a traditional Mass of St Nicholas, patron saint of glassblowers, at the Chiesa di San Pietro Martire. Afterwards the celebration continues with a traditional featured event, the Tunnel of Lights. Murano glass artisans have handcrafted ten chandeliers especially for Christmas, and these special chandeliers now illuminate the ancient portico of the San Pietro cloister.
In short, this special Christmas holiday event in Murano celebrate the rich history and traditions of glassmaking in this important artistic island, combined with the magic of Christmas.
As must-to-see…if you are planning a trip to Venice in holiday times…
Images from web – Google Research