The Christmas tree tradition reaches as far around the world as… the streets of Rome. Every year, an impressive tree graces Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome, giving a magical feel to the history-seeped streets of one of the world’s most historic cities.
As if the atmosphere of Saint Peter’s Square wasn’t enough, this year, a well-traveled 100-foot tree was delivered from the Ukraine to be decorated and lit in the annual lighting ceremony.
Two Vatican employees decorated this year’s tree, adorning it with silver and gold metallic flowers, the Vatican’s official colors. Sparkling white lights complete the tree’s shimmering, ethereal look.
The Vatican knows how to give the lighting ceremony all the pomp and detail that the season requires. The season is ushered in by a performance by the Vatican’s gendarmerie band. This year, a Ukrainian youth choir sang traditional Christmas folk music in the square.
The Vatican’s celebration, though set in the ancient heart of Italy, has a distinctly worldwide flair. During this year’s ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI called the tree a symbol of evergreen hope and life, which echoes back to the roots of the Christmas tradition–the nativity of Christ.
The pope ended the convocation with a blessing and a call to unity among nations that would reflect the real message of the season: a message of international hope and peace.