Every year, the Christmas market in Strasbourg is an eagerly anticipated event, cherished by locals and tourists from around the world alike. Among the numerous attractions that this market offers, the Grand Christmas Tree standing tall in Kléber Square holds a particularly special place in the hearts of the people of Strasbourg.
An Ancestral Tradition Spanning Over 400 Years
The Christmas market in Strasbourg, also known as Christkindelsmärik, is a true institution. This tradition dates back to 1570, initiated by Pastor Johannes Flinner following the Protestant Reformation. Since then, the city has hosted this event annually, considered today as the oldest Christmas market in France and one of the oldest in Europe.
As for the Grand Christmas Tree, it is a true emblem for the city and its residents. According to a mention from the Œuvre Notre-Dame dating back to 1492, the tradition of the Christmas tree was born in Strasbourg! Back then, trees were set up in various neighbourhoods of the city to celebrate renewal during the darkest time of winter. They were decorated with apples and pretzels!
The Christmas tree then made its way into homes in the 18th century and crossed the Atlantic with German migrations to become the popular symbol we know today. The Grand Christmas Tree itself made its appearance in Kléber Square about twenty years ago.
The Grand Christmas Tree of Strasbourg in 2023
Each year, the Grand Christmas Tree is carefully selected in the Vosges by teams from the ONF (National Forestry Office) and the City of Strasbourg. It can reach up to 30 metres in height! This year, the future Grand Christmas Tree was cut on 18 October 2023 in the Bousson state forest, in Saint-Sauveur (Lorraine). It measures 28.72 metres and is 70 years old.
It is then transported to the Alsatian capital and installed in Place Kléber from 24 October, where it will be meticulously decorated by municipal teams according to the theme of the year, ready for the inauguration of the Christmas market on Friday, 24 November 2023.
Festivities Around the Grand Christmas Tree: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity
True to its history, the Christmas market in Strasbourg honours its origins while embracing the present. Various activities around the Grand Christmas Tree enliven the days of visitors for a convivial moment of discovery.
The Village of Sharing and the Tree's Illuminations
Located at the foot of the Grand Christmas Tree, the Village of Sharing is a space dedicated to charitable organisations. Throughout December, they offer activities and playful workshops to raise awareness among passers-by about their causes.
As the hour progresses, all eyes inevitably turn towards the top of the tree, awaiting the magical moment when the Grand Christmas Tree's lights come on. This unforgettable moment, punctuated by a sound and light show, undoubtedly warms the hearts of young and old alike.
Environmental and Social Initiatives
For several years, the city of Strasbourg has been highlighting environmental and social issues during its Christmas market, particularly through the Grand Christmas Tree.
The garlands have been equipped with LEDs for several years to reduce electricity consumption. In 2022, the municipality decided to turn off the Grand Christmas Tree's lights between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.