St Peter’s Square witnessed the arrival of a 110-foot, 94-year-old Christmas tree cut from a forest near Luson in Trentino-Alto Adige on Friday, reports ANSA. Every year a different part of Italy or a different European country donates a fir tree to the Vatican and to do so is considered a great honour.
This year’s tree is being decorated with 3,000 gold and silver balls, 1,500 energy-efficient lights plus ribbons and a star. The lighting ceremony will take place at 16.30 on 17th December, when folk groups and choirs from Trentino_Alto Adige will sing traditional songs.
The Trentino-Alto Adige region has also donated 50 other, smaller fir trees and these will be used as decorations inside the Vatican.
This Christmas tree tradition was the inspiration of Pope John Paul 11 and the first tree donated, in 1982, came from Italy. Countries such as Romania, the Czech Republic and Austria have also donated trees in recent years.
On Christmas Eve a life-sized Nativity scene will also be unveiled in St Peter’s Square.
Pope Benedict’s Christmas schedule has yet to be announced.