The fir trees are majestically enthroned in the squares of Alsatian towns and villages during the Christmas season. Their resinous scent fills the houses; the fir branches are used to bind the famous Advent wreaths. Today, this emblem of ancient traditions is present everywhere in Alsace and spreads a festive Christmas spirit!
© Ville de Selestat
Selestat, the cradle of the Christmas tree
In Alsace, and especially in Selestat, the Christmas tree is firmly anchored in the hearts of the population. In the Humanist library you can take a look at the carefully guarded first written mention of the Christmas tree throw.
1521. The accountant of the town of Selestat takes his pen and makes an entry in the town’s cash book that will make history: He records an expenditure of four shillings to pay the forester who tends the firs of the communal forest. He adds that residents of the town can cut down a fir tree free of charge to decorate it, "as has been done since unthinkable times".
© Ville de Selestat
The Christmas tree in all its facets
As with most families, your Christmas tree probably in your living or dining room. In Alsace, however, it was not always so. Originally, the Christmas tree hung from the ceiling on a beam. It was only later that it was placed in the room. It was traditionally decorated with red apples, reminiscent of the biblical fruit of temptation, and hosts as a symbol of redemption.
In time, sweets replaced the apples and hosts: The fir branches bent under the sweet weight of cookies, wafers, gingerbread and many other goodies. Today, instead of sweets, the branches of the Christmas tree are often decorated with wooden, glass and ceramic ornaments.
An atmospheric exhibition in the church of Saint George in Selestat traces the evolution of the Christmas tree decorations based on various exemplary decorated fir trees according to. From the Christmas tree hung on the ceiling of the nave as it was originally, to fir trees with modern design decorations in the crypt, there is everything here!
The big fir tree, landmark of the Strasbourg Christmas
If you come to Alsace during the Christmas season, then there is no way around the large Fir tree in Strasbourg by! It is placed year after year on the Place Kleber, where in the past numerous vendors offered their firs for sale. During the Christmas festivities, it watches over the square and the city in a sublime way. With his say and write 30 meters high the majestic tree, twinkling with lights, is one of the most beautiful of all the highest decorated natural fir trees in Europe. A true star of the Alsatian Christmas, it amazes everyone!
Between tradition and modernity
The Ecomusee d’Alsace in Ungersheim invites young and old to learn about ancient customs and traditions. During the Christmas season, the open-air museum offers a craft workshop for Christmas decorations. Let experienced craftsmen show you how to make traditional Christmas tree decorations yourself. The workshop takes place in an original half-timbered house, in which it smells wonderfully of fresh Christmas cookies. Just go with it and let your creativity run wild!
In search of ideas? Then visit the exhibition for the "Mon Beau sapin" competition in Selestat! Artists, creatives and hobbyists give free rein to their imagination and reinvent the Christmas tree – in over 100 innovative and original creations. Admire the equally unconventional and artistic Christmas trees made of paper, iron, wood or metal.
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