Belgian Town Erects Christmas Tree Made of Porcelain Kitchenware

Category: World / Dec 07, 2012 1:21PM EDT
The Flemish city of Hasselt inaugurated on Friday (December 7) a rather peculiar Christmas tree. Instead of the traditional green fir, the town opted for a huge tree-shaped metal structure covered with second-hand porcelain kitchenware. Hasselt's vice-mayor Karolien Mondelaers, who is responsible for the project, said the cups, plates and mugs symbolise the traditional Christmas thought of sharing time together. "Christmas is a feast that brings people together around the table eating together, being together in a cosy atmosphere and so we launched an appeal to the people of Hasselt: bring in your cups and plates. 3000 citizens of Hasselt have effectively given their sets of porcelain and with all that, we made a Christmas tree that symbolizes this coziness and this solidarity," Mondelaers said. To execute the project, the town called upon all its citizens to contribute a few items of their porcelain kitchenware. Organizers then took a week to put the tree together. "Two months ago we launched an appeal to the people of Hasselt to bring in cups and plates. We collected them and then sorted them. After that it took us one week to build this Christmas tree," said Stefan Vanbergen, one of the tree's designers and project coordinator. Measuring nine meters tall and six meters wide, and standing in the middle of the city's cozy historical central square, the tree is drawing strong reactions from the town's citizens and visitors. "It looks like nothing. Honestly, it's really not my taste. Christmas should be green, green," said an elderly passer-by. "I really don't know what to make out of it. It is unique, special," said Alfred Bellemans. "I expected it to be more ugly when I heard about it on TV. Actually in reality it is not that bad," added his wife, Isabelle Montfort. But for most people the tree, which is located only a few meters away from the 12th century St. Quentin's Cathedral and a 17th century timbered house, is a thorn in the eye. "Actually, I don't think it's really beautiful. A real Christmas tree brings much more atmosphere, Christmas. This is so bare, so strange. It's not really my taste," said Laura Gevers. German tourist Carl Schlesinger mocked the project. "First of all, I have to say, I have never seen a tree like that. It's made of plates and I wonder how many wedding eve parties you can serve on something like that," said Schlesinger, who traveled from Euskirchen in north Rhine-Westphalia, to visit the historical sites in the town. The tree will stay on the main square until January 7. After dismantling the tree, project organizers said they plan to break all the kitchenware in pieces and use the bits to create a mosaic that will be put on display at a local parking lot.