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Christmas tree goes up in St.Peter's Square

34-metre, 94-year-old giant spruce came from Dolomites

07 December, 10:59
Christmas tree goes up in St.Peter's Square

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 3 - A 34-metre, 94-year-old spruce tree from Italy's mountainous Trentino-Alto Adige region was erected in St. Peter's Square Friday and will now be decorated for Christmas.

The tree was cut down last week near Luson in the Dolomites north of Bolzano, picked from among hundreds of fellow giants in a 1,150m-high wood owned by local landowner Martin Ragginer.

The spruce will be decked out with 3,000 gold and silver balls as well as 1,500 white and yellow LED lights that the Vatican has stressed are more energy-efficient than ones used in previous years.

Ribbons will festoon the length of the tree and a large star with a pulsating light will be placed on top.

It will be lit up for the first time on December 17, at 16:30, in a special ceremony attended by people from Trentino, folk groups and choirs.

Donating a Christmas tree to the home of Catholicism is considered a great honour and every year a different region or country is given this privilege.

Trentino-Alto Adige is also donating another 50 smaller trees which will be set up and adorned within the Vatican itself.

Pope John Paul II initiated the Christmas tree tradition in 1982 and trees have been donated in recent years by a number of European countries, including Romania, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The Vatican has yet to announce Pope Benedict XVI's schedule for the Christmas period. Apart from the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, highlights always include the pope's Urbis et Orbis (To the City and the World) message delivered from his balcony at noon on December 25.