Tree? Check. Vatican gears up for Christmas

AP News
Posted: Dec 05, 2011 10:28 AM
Tree? Check. Vatican gears up for Christmas

The Christmas season has officially begun at the Vatican with the arrival of a 25-meter (82-foot) pine from Ukraine.

Workers hoisted up the tree in St. Peter's Square 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 Dec. 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.