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Vatican Christmas Tree & Lighting Ceremony 2024 - Everything You Need to Know

Vatican TicketsChristmas Tree

Being the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, it should come as no surprise that the Vatican pulls out all the stops for Christmas. Christmas is a magical 21-day affair in Vatican city and well, no Christmas celebration is complete without a Christmas Tree.

Christmas Tree at the Vatican City

The Christmas tree is installed in the center of Saint Peter's Square, along with a life-size nativity scene. Vatican's Christmas festivities run from December 9th to January 7th, marked by the annual Tree Lighting ceremony in St. Peter’s Square. Despite closures on December 25th and 26th, the Christmas season attracts many visitors. The globally renowned Christmas Eve mass requires tickets booked two months ahead.

Christmas Tree 2023

Vatican Christmas Tree

The Vatican Christmas tree, unveiled on 9 December 2023, is a fine 91 feet tall White Spruce tree. It comes from the Italian Alps region close to the French border. The White Spruce Tree that will adorn the Vatican this year will be decorated, not with traditional ornaments, but with white edelweiss flowers, found in the Alps region and higher altitudes.

Repurposing of the Christmas tree

After the Vatican's Christmas festivities, the felled fir tree won't go to waste. Instead, it will be repurposed into toys for children in need through Caritas, ensuring the tree's legacy brings joy beyond the holiday season.

Brief history of the Christmas tree tradition at the Vatican City

Also dubbed the St. Peter's Square Christmas Tree, the Vatican Christmas Tree refers to the tree that is decorated and erected at St. Peter's Square as part of the Christmas celebrations. The tradition of placing a Christmas Tree and the Nativity Scene at the Vatican started in 1982, during the pontification of Pope John Paul II. The first-ever Christmas Tree came from Italy and since then, every year, a tree is donated by a different European country or region.

Past Christmas Trees at Vatican

Over the past 40 years, the Vatican has seen many kinds of trees from different parts of Europe. Take a look at where the past Christmas Trees at Vatican have come from.

YEAR

SPECIES

HEIGHT

PLACE OF ORIGIN

2023

White spruce

28 meters (91 ft)

Alps mountains, Italy

2022

White Fir

30 meters (98 ft.)

Rosello, Italy

2021

Picea abies

28 meters (92 ft.)

Andalo, Italy

2020

Spruce

30 meters (98 ft.)

Kočevje, Slovenia

2019

Spruce

26 meters (85 ft.)

Veneto, Italy

2018

Spruce

23 meters (75 ft.)

Pordenone, Italy

2017

Spruce

21 meters (69 ft.)

Gołdap, Poland

2016

Spruce

25 meters (82 ft.)

Trento, Italy

2015

Spruce

25 meters (82 ft.)

Ehenfeld bei Hirschau, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, Germany

2014

Fir

25 meters (82 ft.)

Calabria, Southern Italy

2013

Fir

25 meters (82 ft.)

Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany

2012

Silver Fir

30 meters (98 ft.)

Pescopennataro, Italy

2011

Spruce

30 meters (98 ft.)

Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukraine

2010

Spruce

33.5 meters (110 ft.)

Bolzano, South Tyrol, northern Italy

2009

Norway Spruce

30 meters (98 ft.)

Ardennes forests near Spa, Wallonia, Belgium

2008

Norway spruce

33 meters (108 ft.)

Municipality of Gutenstein, Lower Austria, Austria

2007

Fir

30 meters (98 ft.)

Val Badia, in the Dolomites mountains, Italy

2006

Fir

33.5 meters (110 ft.)

Taverna, Calabria, Italy

2005

Fir

33 meters (108 ft.)

Afiesl, Upper Austria, Austria

2004

Fir

32.5 meters (107 ft.)

Pinzolo, Trento region, Alps mountains, Italy

2003

Spruce

32 meters (105 ft.)

Pré-Saint-Didier, Valle D’Aosta, Italy

2002

Fir

28 meters (92 ft.)

Gorski kotar, Croatia 

2001

Transylvania, Romania

2000

Carinthia, Austria

1999

Moravka, Czech Republic

1998

Schwarzwald, Germany

1997

Zakopane, Tatra Mountains, Poland

1996

Kočevje, Slovenia

1995

Obertraubling, Regensburg, Germany

1994

Žilina, Slovakia

1993

Graz-Seckau, Styria, Austria

1992

South Tyrol, Italy

1991

Vorarlberg, Austria

1990

Ponte di Legno, Brescia, Italy

1989

Schärding, Upper Austria, Austria

1988

Cadore, Italy

1987

Carinthia, Austria

1986

Toblach, South Tyrol

1985

South Tyrol, Italy

1984

Waldmünchen, Bavaria, Germany

1983

Tyrol, Austria

1982

Fir

Alban Hills, Italy




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Frequently asked questions about the Christmas tree at Vatican

Is there a Christmas tree at the Vatican?

Every year a tree is donated to the Vatican by a different region in Europe. Unveiling of the Vatican Christmas Tree, or the Saint Peter's Square Christmas Tree, kickstarts the Christmas celebrations at Vatican.

What is special about the 2023 Christmas tree at Vatican?

This year's Christmas tree is an 91 ft. tall White Spruce tree that comes from the Italian Alps close to the French border. The tree will be decorated not with traditional ornaments but with white edelweiss flowers found in the Alps region, making it a rather unique Christmas tree.

What happens to the Vatican's Christmas tree after the holidays?

After the Vatican's holiday celebrations, the Christmas tree will be repurposed. Its wood will be transformed into toys for children in need through Caritas, ensuring the tree's legacy continues to bring joy beyond the festive season.

Is the Vatican Christmas tree decorated with specific themes?

Yes, the decorations on the tree often have symbolic or thematic significance, sometimes reflecting the spirit of the season or commemorating special events or anniversaries.

When did the tradition of putting up Christmas tree start in Vatican?

The first Christmas tree was erected in Saint Peter's Square in 1982, under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

Are there special events or activities associated with the Vatican's Christmas tree?

Apart from the lighting ceremony, various events such as concerts or exhibitions may be organized during the Christmas season in the Vatican.

Is the Vatican City open during Christmas time?

Most landmarks, including the Vatican museum, and the Sistine chapel, are closed during Christmas time i.e. 25-26 December. However, the Vatican City is open during this time, and you can partake in the festivities of the holiday season, by viewing the Christmas tree, the nativity scene and even attending the mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

Can visitors attend the Vatican's Christmas tree lighting ceremony?

Yes, the lighting ceremony in St. Peter's Square is open to the public, offering visitors and locals alike the chance to witness the festive inauguration.

Is the Vatican Christmas tree connected to the Nativity scene?

While the tree and the Nativity scene are displayed in close proximity in St. Peter's Square, they are distinct symbols of the Christmas season, each with its own significance.

What can I see at the Vatican during Christmas?

You can explore the beautiful country, its artsy streets, the picturesque Christmas tree and nativity scene, pretty markets and of course, experience the popular Christmas Mass from Peter's Square.

How early should one plan to visit for the Vatican Christmas Eve mass?

Booking tickets for the Vatican Christmas Eve mass should ideally be done at least two months in advance due to high demand for this globally watched mass.