“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree; thy leaves are so unchanging…”
Or at least they are if you opt for a fake tree. A real tree tends to sit in the corner of the room, slowly turning brown and shedding pine needles all over the floor while the family argues about who has to drag it outside. The tradition of the Christmas tree 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 just plain weird. Let’s take a tour around the world to take in the Christmas trees that are truly tree-mendous (sorry for the pun).
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The 279-feet-high floating Christmas tree at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was surrounded by fireworks during its inauguration on November 29, 2014. But even without the fireworks, it’s an eyecatcher.
2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, USA
30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan is the home of US broadcaster NBC, and hosts one of the most recognized Christmas trees in the world. A tree has been placed there each year since 1933, and is usually a Norway Spruce. The 45,000 individual lights are switched on each year at an official ceremony, usually accompanied by a live concert (because nothing says Merry Christmas like Mariah Carey trying to sell a few more copies of her Christmas CD). Your own Christmas decorations are probably far less elaborate, but no less beautiful.
3. Trafalgar Square, London, UK
Christmas can be a time for gratitude, and this has led to the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square. The tree has been an annual gift from the people of Norway since 1947, in thanks for England’s help during WW2. Most trees selected for London are more than 60 years old, meaning that until recent years, the trees were actually growing during the war.
4. Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
It would seem that the French prefer their Christmas trees to be more traditional, like the four-storey monster placed inside the posh Galeries Lafayette Department Store each year which you can see above. However in 2014, American artist Paul McCarthy was responsible for the massive inflatable “Christmas tree” installation in central Paris, which was criticized for its strong resemblance to a sex toy, and was later destroyed by vandals.
5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
There’s a beautiful juxtaposition with the placement of the annual Christmas tree at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The Christmas tree is a universal symbol of goodwill towards all men (and of course, all women), while the Brandenburg Gate was once the setting for Nazi ceremonies.
6. Lego Christmas Tree, London, UK
Perhaps the ultimate in plastic Christmas trees, this gigantic Lego construction was put up at London’s St Pancras International Station, where the Eurostar leaves for Paris. You might complain about having to take down your Christmas tree and pack away the decorations, but pity the poor people who had to dismantle this thing.
7. Floating Christmas Tree, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
While Brazil might not have a white Christmas, it doesn’t stop them from having perhaps the most amazing Christmas tree of all. Constructed on a barge anchored in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the tree boasts more than 3.3 million lights.
8. St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Christmas is a holy time for many people, and so it’s fitting that the Pope can look out his window and see this 82 foot beauty, which is a gift from the German state of Bavaria.
9. Monte Ingino, Gubbio, Italy
Why have one tree when several hundred are more impressive? On the slopes of Monte Ingino, just outside of Gubbio in central Italy, individual pine trees are fitted with lights in order to create one massive tree that stretched more than 2000 feet to the top of the mountain. It’s actually switched on remotely by the Pope, using a tablet computer. Ah, technology.
10. National Christmas Tree, Washington DC, USA
The President of the United States has many stressful duties to perform, so the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree is probably a welcomed relief. Each President from Franklin D. Roosevelt onwards has officiated at the lighting ceremony.
11. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA
Maybe the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree is one that lives all year round and is merely decorated during the festive season. This tree is more than 160 feet in height, meaning it dominates the landscape no matter what the season might be.
12. Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
Christmas in Australia takes place during the heat of summer, and Melbourne has been known to reach more than 40°C (106°F) during the festive season. This doesn’t stop Federation Square in downtown Melbourne from hosting a beautiful Christmas tree each year, with confused children melting in the heat as they look at representations of a white Christmas.
13. Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
The city of Madrid has opted for an environmentally friendly tree, since the tree in question is actually a glorious sculpture of metal and glass.
14. Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand
Unless climate change really kicks into gear, Bangkok is unlikely to experience a white Christmas anytime soon. That doesn’t stop the people of Bangkok from enjoying an annual gigantic Christmas tree, which is located at the entrance to the Central World Shopping Mall.
15. Comercio Square, Lisbon, Portugal
Europe’s tallest Christmas tree can be found in the Portuguese capital, and while the height varies slightly each year depending on the approved construction (since the tree is made from steel), it’s generally around 250 feet tall.
16. Murano Christmas Tree, Venice, Italy
Murano glassware has been prized for centuries, and the Venetian island has been the home of fine glass since 1291. So of course, why not make an entire Christmas tree of the stuff? The end result is striking, but perhaps a little too alien to be truly festive.
17. Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE
If you happen to lose a Christmas ornament, it’s no big deal. If any ornament is lost from the Emirate Palace Hotel’s tree, whoever is responsible might be facing jail time. It’s decorated with more than $11 million in jewelry and precious stones.
18. Dortmund Christmas Market, Dortmund, Germany
We’ve saved the biggest and the best for last. This tree uses an idea similar to the previously mentioned Lego tree, and is made of multiple smaller parts. This huge “tree” is in fact made of 1700 smaller pine trees, stretching some 150 feet into the winter sky.