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Slovenian Christmas Tree to decorate the Vatican

Following the decision of the RS Government and in agreement with the Holy See, a Slovenian Christmas tree, a spruce tree from the forests of Kočevje, will be placed in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. It will be decorated with handmade Slovenian ethnographic ornaments.

The Christmas trees from the forests of Kočevje are a symbol of Slovenia’s virtue regarding forests and forestry

The Christmas trees from the forests of Kočevje are a symbol of Slovenia’s virtue regarding forests and forestry | Author Vasja Marinič

The placement of the Christmas tree and the accompanying promotional events will be a great promotion of Slovenia, especially in light of its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021. The whole project has been led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food since the very beginning. The opening ceremony will take place in the Vatican on 11 December 2020.

The director of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, said that the placement of the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican is an excellent opportunity for the recognisability of Slovenia in the world, for presenting Slovenia as a green nation, while also being a symbol of powerful ties between the Vatican and Slovenia. With the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence in December 2020 and in the course of 2021, this will be a sort of opening ceremony. It is also one of the international projects that strengthens the recognisability of Slovenia in light of its presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is the second time Slovenia has had this honour, the first one being in 1996.

Slovenia will provide a suitable spruce Christmas tree of appropriate dimensions to decorate St. Peter’s Square. Slovenia has also provided 42 smaller spruce and fir trees for the decoration of the Holy See, in heights ranging from 1.5m to 6m, which are already in the Vatican. The smaller decorative trees will be placed in official areas. Slovenia also decorated the Vatican areas with Advent crowns.

The Minister of Agriculture, Jože Podgoršek, said that the forest in Slovenia is a symbol of the country’s recognisability. He said that the Slovenian forestry school is based on one of the most natural approaches in managing forests, therefore the Christmas trees from the forests of Kočevje, which hold the FSC certificate for the sustainable management of forests, are a symbol of Slovenia’s virtue regarding forests and forestry.

In addition to the green message, the Kočevje spruce tree also brought to the world the Slovenian ethnological message. In deciding what ornaments are most Slovenian and therefore most suitable, Janez Bogataj, PhD, an expert on Slovenian ethnographic heritage, provided assistance and presented the hexaconch. It is one of the core elements used in Slovenian cultural heritage. It was most commonly used as an ornament and symbol on building beams, door panels, sides of chests, etc. The ornament is made of wood, which is also related to Slovenian man. 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.