Vatican gears up for Christmas

2011-12-05 21:23
A worker checks the branches of a Christmas tree, donated by the Ukraine, which was placed in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Pier Paolo Cito, AP)

A worker checks the branches of a Christmas tree, donated by the Ukraine, which was placed in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. (Pier Paolo Cito, AP)

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Vatican City - The Christmas season has officially begun at the Vatican with the arrival of a 25m pine tree from Ukraine.

Workers hoisted up the tree in St Peter's Square on Monday after it was cut down in a remote area of Ukraine's Carpathian mountains.

The tree will be decorated with 2 500 gold and silver balls and lit on December 16 at a ceremony attended by representatives of Ukraine's Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Ukraine's ambassador to the Holy See, Tetiana Izhevska, said Ukraine is proud to donate the tree since it's a "symbol of life, symbol of hope, symbol of unity and Christmas joy".

Polish-born John Paul II began the tradition of erecting a tall Christmas tree in the square in 1982; the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI has continued it.

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