The Vatican Christmas Tree, also called the Saint Peter's Square Christmas Tree, is the decorated tree that is erected annually in the Saint Peter's Square directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City to celebrate the Christmas holiday season.
The tradition of placing a Christmas Tree as well as the life-size Nativity Scene in Saint Peter's Square started in 1982 during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, when the Polish-born Pope introduced the northern European symbol of Christmas spirit. The tradition of erecting a Christmas Tree was celebrated in northern Europe and in Poland, Pope John Paul II's country of origin, but not in the Vatican at the time.
The first tree came from Italy. Since then, the offering of the Christmas Tree to the Pope has become an honour, and each year the Vatican accepts a tree donated by a different European country or region.
The Christmas tree is installed in the centre of Saint Peter's Square, together with a life-size nativity scene that is unveiled on Christmas Eve. The nativity scene has seventeen life-size statues. Of these, nine are the original figures donated in 1842 by Saint Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, and the other eight figures were added over the course of the years. In 2006 the Italian province of Trentino, and the local council of a village of Tesero, have provided a further thirteen sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.
|Year||Species||Height||Location grown at||Notes|
|2017||Spruce||21 metres (69 ft)||Gołdap, Poland|||
|2016||Spruce||25 metres (82 ft)||Trento, Italy||The tree was illuminated by 18,000 LED lights and decorated with the ceramic ornaments, made by children in hospitals across Italy who are receiving treatment for cancer and other illnesses. The Christmas tree and the Nativity scene was lit on December 9.|
|2015||Spruce||25 metres (82 ft)||Ehenfeld bei Hirschau, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, Germany|||
|2014||Fir||25 metres (82 ft)||Calabria, Southern Italy|||
|2013||Fir||25 metres (82 ft)||Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany|| This would be the second time this region donated a Christmas Tree, last being in 1984.|
|2012||Silver Fir||30 metres (98 ft)||Pescopennataro, Italy|||
|2011||Spruce||30 metres (98 ft)||Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine||The tree was a gift from Ukraine, a spruce from the Zakarpattia Oblast, 30.5 meters high and with a trunk of 56 centimeters. It had more than 700 branches, which were decorated with 2,500 silver- and gold-colored baubles illuminated by white and yellow lights. It was raised on December 5 and inaugurated on December 16 in the presence of bishops from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.|
|2010||Spruce||33.5 metres (110 ft)||Bolzano, South Tyrol, northern Italy||94 years old tree. The tree came from a PEFC certified, sustainable managed forest surrounding Lüsen in South Tyrol, northern Italy. It was lit in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI on 17 December.|
|2009||Norway Spruce||30 metres (98 ft)||Ardennes forests near Spa, Wallonia, Belgium||The tree was 90 years old, more than 30 meters high, weighed 14 tons, with a trunk circumference of 2.65 metres, and branches at the bottom spread out 8 metres |
The giant tree came from a PEFC certified, sustainably managed Ardennes forests in the Belgian region of Wallonia near the town of Spa. It was decorated with 2,000 gold and silver colored bulbs and 1,500 lights. The lights were turned on by two children from Belgium during the opening ceremony held on 18 December 2009. The tree was adorned with white and gold ornaments.
The Belgian town of Spa also donated 40 small fir trees to decorate the halls and rooms of the Vatican City.
|2008||Norway spruce||33 metres (108 ft)||Municipality of Gutenstein, Lower Austria, Austria ||120 years old tree. The Christmas Tree, which was 33 metres high and 120 years old, was donated by Austria.|
|2007||Fir||30 metres (98 ft)||Val Badia, in the Dolomites mountains, Italy|
|2006||Fir||33.5 metres (110 ft)||Taverna, Calabria, Italy|
|2005||Fir||33 metres (108 ft)||Afiesl, Upper Austria, Austria||The Christmas tree was donated by a group of Austrian pilgrims from the town of Afiesl, which is located in a province of Upper Austria. They also donated 32 small trees to decorate the papal apartments.|
|2004||Fir||32.5 metres (107 ft)||Pinzolo, Trento region, Alps mountains, Italy||A 100-year-old, 105-foot-tall Christmas tree brought down from the Italian Alps|
|2003||Spruce||32 metres (105 ft)||Pré-Saint-Didier, Valle D’Aosta, Italy||A 98-foot-tall, 110-year-old spruce tree from the northern Italian region of Valle D'Aosta The Christmas tree, along with twenty other smaller ones that have been placed in and around the Vatican, were the gifts of the northern Italian region of Valle D'Aosta to the Pope for Christmas 2003. |
Pope John Paul II spent seven summer vacations in Valle D'Aosta, and one large Alpine mountain on the border with France has been named after him. The tree was symbolically presented to the Pope by three hundred people from Valle D’Aosta, including the governor of the region, at the general audience.
|2002||Fir||28 metres (92 ft)||Gorski kotar, Croatia |
|2001||Transylvania, Romania||The Christmas tree came from Romania, with President Ion Iliescu present during the lighting ceremony.|
|1999||Moravka, Czech Republic|
|1997||Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland||Tree came from he garden of the Centrum Formacyjno-Szkoleniowe „Księżówka” w Zakopanem.|
|1995||Obertraubling, Regensburg, Germany|
|1993||Graz-Seckau, Styria, Austria|
|1992||South Tyrol, Italy|
|1990||Ponte di Legno, Brescia, Italy|
|1989||Schärding, Upper Austria, Austria|
|1986||Toblach, South Tyrol|
|1985||South Tyrol, Italy|
|1984||Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany|
|1982||Fir||Alban Hills, Italy|
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