Christmas lights in Alsace
The Christmas tree in Strasbourg
24th November until 31st December in the Place Kléber.
At over 30 metres tall, the Christmas tree is Strasbourg’s pride and joy. Each year it is covered in colourful creative decorations, made to measure by Antoinette Pflimlin; one of the tallest trees in Europe is a true beacon of light, holding an astounding 1000 lights!
Alsace, the home of Christmas traditions
According to records found in the Biliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat, Christmas tree sales first took place in the village in 1521; and no one tells a story quite as well as an Alsacien. Tree decorating in Alsace dates back to the Middle Ages. On the 24th December, a fir tree laden with fruit would be placed in the centre of the churches to represent the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. In an attempt to control this temptation, unblessed communion hosts (the symbol of redemption) were later added.
Around the beginning of the 16th Century, parishioners began replacing the fir branches with decorated trees. The first Christmas trees were hung from the ceiling with an apple at the bottom, or decorated with little red apples known as “Christkindle”. From the end of the 16th Century, roses and multi-coloured flowers were added, made from plain or patterned golden paper; a symbol of the Tree of Jesse. At the end of the 18th Century and beginning of the 19th Century, golden and silver nuts also adorned the trees.
Hosts were replaced with traditional Alsacian Bredles, sugar sweets and marzipan. During the second half of the 19th Century, treats became more elaborate and sweets were covered with pictures. Icing sugar was invented, and Bredles became more colourful. Gingerbread treats were decorated with sugar and images. At the end of the 19th Century wax figurines; especially angel figures dressed in gold and silver paper began to appear, and are still used in the making of paper garlands today. Pine cones were coloured for the first time. Taking inspiration for the glassmakers of Meisenthal; ornate decorations such as baubles, glass decorations and bells were widely used.
The first recorded Christmas trees
23 November 2012 until 3 January 2013 at the Bibliothèque Humaniste de Sélestat.
Visitors can see the original document on display which dates back to 1521, the first recorded evidence of Christmas trees. The tale goes that guards were paid four shillings to keep watch over the forests, and anyone caught cutting down a tree would be face with a hefty fine!
A walk in the park
Christmas in the Gardens of Wesserling Park
For 16 nights in December, 1-30 December 2012, Husseren Wesserling. Somewhere between dreams and magic, lose yourself in the enchantment of the gardens of a thousand lights. With figures representing the Château’s industrial past there to guide you, step back in time as you wonder through the gardens and learn about the role Wesserling played in the fabric industry. The “Noël de Coton” will this year tell the tale of the first cotton imports into Alsace.
The Enchanted Forest
8 December 2012 to 6 January 2013.
In the heart of the town of Altkirch, the winding paths of the Enchanted Forest are recreated and bring to life the local tales and legends of Sundgau. A rich spectacle of re-enactments draws crowds to witness the magic as scenes from famous tales such as “La Fée aux Fleurs, Le Petit Homme du Blonchmont, La Vierge Noire, Les nains de la Gorge aux Loups” and “La sorcière de Koestlach” can be seen throughout the town.
Osthouse, 23 to 25 November and 30 November to 2 December. “The pathway to the stars!” Walk through our Christmas show of poetry and lights and see over 20 Christmas scenes, fun for children and families alike! A free shuttle runs from Erstein station to Osthouse castle.
An enchanted Christmas
Saverne, November 30th until January 2nd 2013. The town of Saverne puts on its traditional Christmas display; shop windows are lit up and Saverne gets into the Christmas spirit. Buildings are illuminated; there is a Christmas market and even an ice rink. On 4, 11 and 18 December, at dusk both adults and children can take part in a guided walk through the town, whilst discovering some of the tales of the town.
The fourth annual Guebwiller’s « Blue Christmas »
2 December to 26 December 2012. Noël Bleu is a unique concept which originates from the town of Guebwiller. It’s a step away from the more traditional Christmas values to more modern technologies. Using 3D video mapping and music, the town comes to life in a spectacle of sight and sound. Now in its fourth year and attracting over 16000 visitors in 2011; Noël Bleu 2012 will portray a host of blue light shows and 3D projected mappings inspired by the ceramic artist Théodore Deck. There will be concerts and visits to the Théodore Deck museum, the Dominican’s monastery, modern electronic music concerts and an organic Christmas market.
The Night-watchman’s rounds
First three weekends of December, Barr and Turckheim. Every day from 10pm, follow the night watchman, dressed in the fashion of the day as he leads you on a tour of the sleeping village. Hear his cries “Take care of the fireplace and the candle” as would have been common in those days, a warning to villagers to be weary of house fires; as he did his rounds. Over the years the role of the watchman changed, and he would also call out the time and ensure the streets were safe. He would have been a regular sight in his black cape, carrying a lantern and halberd. Today many villages put on displays of the traditional night watchmen.
Thirenbach December 1st-30th. At over 30 metres tall, the fir tree found in the forest of Thierenbach is decorated every Christmas. At the foot of the tree is the manger, with life-sized characters carved into the wood.