Vatican Christmas Tree

Christmas tree Pope John Paul II Spruce
Vatican Christmas Tree. Christmas Day 2007.

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,[1] when the Polish-born Pope introduced the northern European symbol of Christmas spirit.[2] 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.[1][3]

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.[1] 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.[4]


Year Species Height Location grown at Notes
2019 Spruce 26 metres (85 ft) Veneto, Italy [5]
2018 Spruce 23 metres (75 ft) Pordenone, Italy [6]
2017 Spruce 21 metres (69 ft) Gołdap, Poland [7]
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.[8]
2015 Spruce 25 metres (82 ft) Ehenfeld bei Hirschau, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, Germany [9]
2014 Fir 25 metres (82 ft) Calabria, Southern Italy [10]
2013 Fir 25 metres (82 ft) Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany [11] 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 [12]
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.[13][14][14]
2010 Spruce 33.5 metres (110 ft) Bolzano, South Tyrol, northern Italy 94 years old tree.[15] 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.[16]
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[3][1]

The giant tree came from a PEFC certified, sustainably managed Ardennes forests in the Belgian region of Wallonia near the town of Spa.[2][3] 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[17] during the opening ceremony held on 18 December 2009.[18] The tree was adorned with white and gold ornaments.[17]

The Belgian town of Spa also donated 40 small fir trees to decorate the halls and rooms of the Vatican City.[18]

2008 Norway spruce 33 metres (108 ft) Municipality of Gutenstein, Lower Austria, Austria [19] 120 years old tree. The Christmas Tree, which was 33 metres high and 120 years old, was donated by Austria.[20]
2007 Fir 30 metres (98 ft) Val Badia, in the Dolomites mountains, Italy[19][21]
2006 Fir 33.5 metres (110 ft)[22] Taverna, Calabria, Italy[19]
2005 Fir 33 metres (108 ft) Afiesl, Upper Austria, Austria[23] 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.[23]
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[24]
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[25] 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.[25]

2002 Fir 28 metres (92 ft) Gorski kotar, Croatia [22][26]
2001 Transylvania, Romania[22][27] The Christmas tree came from Romania, with President Ion Iliescu present during the lighting ceremony.[27]
2000 Carinthia, Austria[22]
1999 Moravka, Czech Republic[22]
1998 Schwarzwald, Germany[22]
1997 Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland[22][28] Tree came from he garden of the Centrum Formacyjno-Szkoleniowe „Księżówka” w Zakopanem.
1996 Kocevje, Slovenia[22]
1995 Obertraubling, Regensburg, Germany[22]
1994 Žilina, Slovakia[22]
1993 Graz-Seckau, Styria, Austria[22]
1992 South Tyrol, Italy[22]
1991 Vorarlberg, Austria[22]
1990 Ponte di Legno, Brescia, Italy[22]
1989 Schärding, Upper Austria, Austria[22]
1988 Cadore, Italy[22]
1987 Carinthia, Austria[22]
1986 Toblach, South Tyrol[22]
1985 South Tyrol, Italy[22]
1984 Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany[22]
1983 Tyrol, Austria[22]
1982 Fir Alban Hills, Italy[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Christmas tree is delivered to Saint Peter's square". NECN/APTV. December 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  2. ^ a b "Christmas: A tree grows in St. Peter's Square". Angelica Marin. globalpost. December 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
  3. ^ a b c "PEFC Certified Christmas Tree to Light St. Peter's Square". PEFC International. 2009-12-10. Archived from the original on March 21, 2013. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  4. ^ "Lighting of the Christmas Tree in St Peter's Square Tonight". Vatican Information Service. 20 December 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  5. ^ Now, Crux (5 December 2019). "Vatican unveils Nativity scene, lights Christmas tree". Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  6. ^ News, Vatican (22 November 2018). "Christmas tree set up in St. Peter's Square". Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  7. ^ Press, Associated (23 November 2017). "Towering Christmas tree arrives at Vatican from Poland". Retrieved 6 December 2017 – via
  8. ^ "Vatican 'environment friendly' Christmas tree erected in St. Peter's Square". Vatican Radio. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Hirschauer Christbaum leuchtet auf dem Petersplatz (German)". December 18, 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Vatican Christmas Tree". The Catholic Diocese of Memphis. December 8, 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  11. ^ "At the Vatican, it's beginning to look a bit like Christmas". 4 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2012-12-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-12-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ a b "98-foot Vatican Christmas tree arrives". CathNewsUSA. December 5, 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  15. ^ "Decorations are underway for Vatican Christmas tree". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  16. ^ "Vatican Receives PEFC Certified Christmas Tree". 6 Dec 2010. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Tree lit in St Peter's Square". bigpondnews. December 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-21.[dead link]
  18. ^ a b "St. Peter's Square Welcomes Traditional Christmas Tree". Catholic News Agency. EWTN. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  19. ^ a b c "Christmas at St Peter's". Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  20. ^ "Christmas Tree Arrives In St Peter's Square". Franco Origlia/Getty Images Europe. zimbio. December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  21. ^ "30-meter Christmas tree hoisted into place in St. Peter's Square". AP Worldstream. December 5, 2007. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Papież-Polak potrafi(ł)... (in Polish)". Polish Daily News. 2007-12-21. Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  23. ^ a b "An Austrian Christmas tree graces St. Peter's square this year". Cardinal Schonborn. December 25, 2005. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  24. ^ "Ailing Pope Prays For Peace". Joel Roberts. cbsnews. Dec 24, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  25. ^ a b "Pope receives 110 year-old Christmas tree". CNA Catholic News Agency. Dec 11, 2003. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  26. ^ "Croatian Christmas Tree on St. Peter's square". Massimo Sambucetti. Croatian World Network. December 10, 2002. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  27. ^ a b "Pope to Hold Christmas Eve Mass Under Tight Security - 2001-12-24". Voice of America. 24 December 2001. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  28. ^ "Watykan: Choinka na Placu św. Piotra (in Polish)". wiadomosci24. 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2009-12-21.