Leipzig's 2017 Christmas tree is 23 meters tall and comes all the way from the Vogtland. It takes four days to decorate. photo maeshelle west_davies

O Christmas tree: How lovely are thy branches

It looks like the holidays are just around the corner. If you were in city centre this weekend, you may have noticed that the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) is up. What you probably don’t know is what was involved in getting it there.

It probably started long before you were born. This year’s tree is 80 years old and came all the way from the Vogtland. They looked at nearly two dozen trees in our local area, but none were quite tall enough. Maybe one will be ready for 2018.

This Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) is 23 meters tall, according to the Leipzig Mayor’s Office. Three and a half meters sit underground in the base, leaving nearly 20 meters to tower over Market Square. The tree was cut down on Wednesday, 8 November, and driven overnight to reach us on Thursday morning.

That’s quite a journey for the nearly 5-ton load to take.

The installation and logistics wouldn’t be possible without the personnel and technology of the Leipzig Fire Department and the Department of City Lighting of the Traffic and Civil Engineering Office.

This year’s Christmas tree comes from the site of the former tuberculosis clinic Albertsberg, which served as a sanatorium for children and adolescents prior to the fall of the Wall. Long out of use, some of the buildings are being converted into residential space, and they were going to chop down the tree anyway. It’s nice that it could come here and be our Christmas tree before they cut it into lumber.

Leipzig's Christmas tree this year comes from the former site of Albertsberg Clinic
Albertsberg Clinic, postcard

And now comes the task of decorating the Christmas tree.

It takes three to four days to place the 600 red and gold ornaments and 3,000 energy efficient LED lights. This year, the task is in new hands because longtime head decorator Gerd Klix has retired. He will still be on hand as consultant, though.

The red and gold ornaments for the Christmas tree as they are being unpacked. (Photo: Maeshelle West-Davies)
The red and gold ornaments for the Christmas tree as they are being unpacked. (Photo: Maeshelle West-Davies)

The decorations stay up til 2 January, and the tree comes down the next day. Meanwhile, we can toast it with a hot wine or two when the Christmas Market officially opens 28 November.

I hope you enjoy my favourite version of O Tannenbaum, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It’s from the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas, in the international language of jazz.

And the Aretha Franklin English lyrics version, so you can sing it:

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
Your boughs so green in summertime
Stay bravely green in wintertime
O Tannenbaum, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches

Let us all remember
In our gift giving and our merriment
With our family and friends and loved ones
The real and true meaning of Christmas
The birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
How lovely are, are thy branches
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
How lovely are, how lovely are thy branches

The pillars all please faithfully
Our trust in God unchangedly
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
How love, lovely are thy branches

On Comet, on Cupid, on Donder and Blitzen
Ha ha ha ha

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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