Christmas time is truly upon us and it’s almost impossible not to be touched by the Christmassy vibes in Berlin! And a Christmas tree is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable signs of the Christmas season!
Though German tradition dictates that Christmas trees be put up quite late, on Christmas Eve (December 24th), for several years now, Germans have been setting trees up as early as late November, on the first weekend of Advent.
The custom goes back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, symbolizing Christ being the light of the world. Then, in early modern Germany, Christians began bringing Christmas trees into their homes. Their 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther, who is said to have been the first to put lit candles on an evergreen tree.
The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes and pastries shaped like stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Germany, as were garlands of glass beads and tin figures that could be hung on trees.
The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among European pagans and it survived their conversion to Christianity through the incorporation of the Scandinavian customs of decorating houses and barns with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.
After the Protestant Reformation, such trees started appearing in the homes of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. This transition from the guild hall to bourgeois family homes in Protestant regions of Germany ultimately gave rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Also in the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights, after the introduction of electricity.
In the early 20th century, the public display of Christmas trees, illuminated with electric lights, became very popular in cities, towns and department stores.
In Berlin, the most popular areas for “Christmas lightning watching” are Unter den Linden, from Friedrichstrasse to the Brandenburg Gate and the Ku’damm, from Wittenbergplatz to Uhlandstrasse.
And to enhance your Christmas lightning watching experience, we listed five of the most beautiful Christmas trees in Berlin. Check them out!
The Brandenburg Gate:
The 17,5-meter fir stands at Pariser Platz, in front of the Brandenburg Gate, starting in the first weekend of Advent.
The Christmas tree comes from Thuringia and shines bright with around 30,000 lights and hundreds of Christmas balls. The result is simply stunning!
In front of the Reichstag building, a 24-meter-high (originally 31-meter-high!) spruce has been set up since the first weekend of Advent. The 63 years old tree was brought overnight from the Harz Mountains to Berlin. It’s truly a beauty!
The Bellevue Palace:
The 12-meter Nordmann fir tree stands at the palace esplanade. According to tradition, each year, one of the most beautiful trees in the neighboring state of Brandenburg is brought to the official residence of the German President, who personally presides over the tree’s festive lighting ceremony, accompanied by a school chorus singing traditional Christmas songs.
It’s the only one where you can be sure you won’t get photobombed, since the palace’s front garden is protected by a moat!
The blue spruce for this year’s Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt will be up for over a month. Standing about 20 meters tall, the 73 years old tree was grown in a garden in the southeastern neighborhood of Britz and was transported overnight to Berlin’s city center.
The tree is decorated with more than 100,000 little lights, with a lovely star of Bethlehem on top. Needless to say, it’s a Christmas dream in real life!
The Baden-Württemberg state representation building in Berlin:
Since the year 2000, it’s been a tradition for the Christmas tree in front of the Baden-Württemberg state representation building on Tiergartenstrasse to be donated by towns and communities from the Black Forest. The tree makes the journey all the way to Berlin to be set up the first weekend of Advent.
This is the most minimalist Christmas tree you’ll find in Berlin, decorated with amazingly beautiful bauble lights of different shapes and sizes. A pure delight!
And if you want to stay in the Christmas mood, don’t miss our selection of the best Christmas markets in Berlin!