The Christmas tree saga

Written by Frédéric Solvel - 11 Nov 2012, 00:00 (Updated: 31 Oct 2013, 11:22)
The Christmas tree saga
The Christmas tree is gone, and we want it back! The proud evergreen on the Grand Place will cede its place over to a luminous structure. You can’t miss it unless you've been living under a rock.

Prologue. Wednesday, November 7, 2012. During the press conference for Winter Wonders, a group of journalists and those involved with life in Brussels discover the 2012 version of this seasonal classic. The 2012-13 edition has some new features: Ice-Disco Parties every Thursday on the ice skating rink, Terracotta Army at the Bourse, Balkan Trafik and… a new Christmas tree on the Grand Place. A new tree that will take the form of an electronic structure.  A structure that you can climb to support SAMU Social.

Act 1

Bianca Debaets, city councilwoman, wants to make an effort to reduce the religious reference. To push her point, the name Plaisirs d’Hiver (Winter Wonders) replaced the Christmas Market name.

Act 2

The web blows up about this fake Christmas tree affaire. Facebook is full of statuses about the Christmas tree, and a New York media source took hold of the affaire under the title Brussels Bans ‘Offensive’ Christmas Tree For Muslims.

Act 3

Bloggers come back to the scene and try to bring the traditional Christmas traditions back to the forefront. People complain about this modernized ‘tree’.


It’s time for some clarification. The tree tradition was rooted in tradition well before the birth of Christ or the Prophet. For ages the tree had a sacred importance for the Pagans. Whether we are talking about Celts or the Vikings, the tree was always found in their customs. In particular, on the winter solstice, the sun rise was celebrated around an evergreen, a symbol of life.

Next came the Christianization of the Roman and Germanic peoples from the 3rd-4th centuries after JC. Evangelical monks had to be inventive in their conversion practices. The Pagan tradition and customs were still strong, so some of their customs were adapted into Christian doctrine in order to appeal to the irreligious people.

Since 2002, Winter Wonders has referred to the group of seasonal activities in Brussels that occur every year. The Christmas Market is a part of the Winter Wonders festival. So, “no, Ms. Debaets, Winter Wonders is not replacing the Christmas Market.” There are still some Christian touches, like the traditional manger scene at the foot of the electronic tree. Be sure to respect the manger scene animals! We hope that the Hard Rock Café's music won't be too loud.

Nature lovers can be assured that there will be Christmas trees everywhere in the city, including by the royal palace. Get ready for Saint Nicholas who will be arriving soon right from Turkey and accompanied by Black Peter. We are sorry, dear readers, that we can no longer follow the live installation of the Christmas tree on the world’s most beautiful square.

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