The Vatican Christmas tree is one tradition still standing during the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s arriving in Saint Peter’s Square yesterday.

A spruce chosen from Kočevska Reka in Kočevje, Slovenia planted right after WWII, it weighs seven tons, stands nearly 100 feet tall, and is just under 15 feet around.

Jakob Štunf, Slovenian Ambassador to the Holy See since 2019, said in a statement that “after the war, hope for a peaceful world, a peaceful and fraternal life, began to grow.”

The tree’s exact height, 30 meters, was chosen to commemorate the 30 year anniversary Slovenia’s independence referendum.

“This is a very beautiful opportunity for Slovenia, and we’re very proud to be able to present the Christmas tree for the second time. As I said, it’s a symbolic act with which we begin these celebrations, remembering also 30 years of our country’s history.”

The Slovenian government’s website says the tree and its ornaments represent their country’s cultural heritage:

“The ornament’s design of a hexaconch is one of the core elements used in Slovenian cultural heritage. It was most commonly used as an ornament and symbol on house beams, door panels and sides of chests. The ornament is made of wood, which is also related to Slovenians. In addition to comet stars and a star in the form of a hexaconch, the spruce tree will also be decorated with a couple of single hexaconch stars.”

The inaugural lighting of the tree will take place on Friday, December 11th, staying in Saint Peter’s Square until the end of the Christmas liturgical season on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 10th, 2021.

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