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  • Lighting of the Christmas Tree

    by Anthony Parente

    One of the things I love about Italy is the different and unique traditions they do throughout the year and in particular during various holidays. One tradition that takes place during the Christmas season is the lighting of the Christmas tree in the city of Gubbio, Umbria. You might ask yourself what is so special about lighting a Christmas tree. This tradition is done in cities and towns all across the world. In Gubbio it is not your ordinary Christmas tree.

    In 1981 the eugubini (the name for the residents of Gubbio) wanted to pay homage to their patron Saint Ubaldo and they wanted to do something different to celebrate the Christmas season. What they came up with was later called "The World's Largest Christmas Tree" by The Guinness Book of World Records in 1991.

    The town sits at the bottom of Mount Ingino and the Basilica di Sant'Ubaldo is located near the top of the mountain. The eugubini decided to construct a tree completely out of lights that spans up the mountainside. The tree has a height of over 650 meters and at the base it is 350 meters wide. The entire outline of the tree is adorned with 260 green lights while inside the tree you will find 270 multi-colored lights. No tree is complete without a star and this one is about 1000 square meters and consists of 200 lights. It takes about 3 months and countless volunteers to help construct the tree.

    The tree is lit every year on December 7th, which is on the eve of the Immaculate Conception and remains lit until after the Epiphany. During that time thousands flock to this small Medieval town to admire this tree. In keeping up with today's technology Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 turned on the tree by tapping his tablet from the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

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