Looking for the perfect Sapin de Noël (Christmas tree)? Then ask someone in Sélestat, the home of the Christmas tree. After all, anyone in the Alsatian village situated between Strasbourg and Colmar should know since the town holds the first recorded mention of a Christmas tree.
Don’t believe me? Just check out the Bibliothèque Humaniste (The Humanist Library) which houses the first mention of the Christmas tree dating back to 1521. In addition, the fabulous library full of treasured books also houses the birth certificate of America too.
Today, Sélestat still incorporates the Christmas tree tradition into its holiday market or Marché de Noël, as it’s called in French. Not only can you indulge on French Christmas market drink such as Vin Chaud (hot mulled wine), candy and crepes, you can also search for the perfect tree at the Christmas tree market.
If your airline has set hefty overweight luggage fees, skip the tree purchase and join the Circuit de Noël—a pedestrian route marked with signs that pass the town’s main attractions, many with trees decorated minimally as in centuries past.
So how did we begin decorating with Christmas bulbs?
People didn’t always load their Christmas tree down with baubles, popcorn, candles, or even even heinous, tacky Christmas decorations. The first trees were decorated in a minimalistic manner either with walnuts and apples or apples to remind people of Adam and Eve’s original sin and unblessed communion hosts to remind them of redemption and faith.
Legend has it that in 1858 there was a terrible apple drought, which resulted in a lack of apples. The glass makers of Meisenthal made glass versions of the apples and the baubles were so successful, that manufacturers decided to continue producing them and the fad was copied throughout the world.
Sélestat is not only a city that is home of the Christmas Tree, but a quaint Alsatian town full of historical buildings, a lively shopping zone, and historical wonders.
For more ideas on what to see and do in Sélestat visit the tourism site http://www.selestat-tourisme.com/en.html