By Francesca Merlo
A 4.5 tonne Christmas tree was put up in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday morning. The 23metre high tree travelled from the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, more specifically, from Pordenone.
The Christmas tree, along with a life-sized nativity scene (which this year is being sculpted from sand) have been tradition since 1982, when John Paul II was Pope. The tradition of erecting a Christmas Tree was celebrated in northern Europe and it was celebrated in Poland, Pope John Paul II's country of origin, but until then, there had been no Christmas trees in the Vatican.
That year, Pope John Paul II received a Christmas tree as a gift, from a Polish farmer, who had brought it all the way to Rome. Since then, the offering of the Christmas Tree to th Pope has become an honour, and each year the Vatican accepts a tree donated by a different European country or region.
Last year’s tree came from Poland, and the decorations were made and gifted to Pope Francis by children from several departments of oncology around Italy as well as from areas that had been hit by earthquakes.
This year’s tree will be inaugurated on the 7th of December, and its lights will stay on until January 13th of the new year.