Brussels Christmas tree

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The Christmas tree in the Grand Place in 1979

The Brussels Christmas tree is a Christmas tree erected annually in the Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium. It has traditionally been a real tree from the Ardennes forest, except in 2012 when it was replaced with an abstract sculpture.

Traditional trees[edit]

Traditionally, the Grand Place in the centre of Brussels hosts a real Christmas tree each year, taken from the Ardennes forest. The normal height for these trees is around 20 metres (66 ft) high. The Grand Place itself dates from the 17th century and has played host to a Christmas market each year since 2000.[1][2]

2012 tree[edit]

On 30 November 2012,[3] a 25 metres (82 ft) high abstract-style tree was erected in the Grand Place instead of a central real Christmas tree. It was designed to work with an overall theme of light installations in the Grand Place, and allowed visitors to climb to the top of the "tree".[1] It was constructed out of steel-framed boxes, wood and screening materials.[3][2] It cost €40,000 ($52,000) to construct, which was described as about a third of the price of a real tree.[2] The Belgian press reacted negatively to the installation of the tree, with some suggesting that it was erected to avoid offending Muslims.[1] Brussels city councillor Bianca Debaets concurred with this sentiment, and also pointed out that it marked a change of name for the annual Christmas market to "Winter Pleasures".[2] Fellow councillor Philippe Close responded to that criticism by saying, "What we want is just to modernise the pleasure of winter, of this Christmas market and all the image of Brussels. The Christmas tree is not a religious symbol and actually lots of Muslims have a Christmas tree at home."[1] By 1 December, an online petition against the installation had received 11,000 signatures.[1] By 11 December, this had increased to 25,000.[4]

Due to concerns over vandalism during New Year's celebrations in the Grand Place, it was announced in early December that the tree would be taken down on 28 December, instead of early January, as was the case with the real trees in the past.[4]

See also[edit]

  • "Tree", a controversial abstract Christmas tree in Paris


  1. ^ a b c d e "Abstract Christmas tree sparks protests in Brussels". BBC News. 1 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Waldie, Paul (14 December 2012). "Brussels’ modern-art Christmas ‘tree’ triggers outcry, tensions, petition". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Electronic Christmas tree at the Grand-Place". City of Brussels. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Fears for Christmas tree's safety". Reuters. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012.