In France, politics and not peace cut “green” Christmas trees

A tree-shaped sculpture made from recycled wood representing a traditional Christmas tree, part of the seasonal decorations, is seen in front of the town hall of the 12th arrondissement in Paris, France, December 21, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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PARIS, Dec 23 (Reuters) – The town hall of the 12th arrondissement of Paris lights up for the end-of-year celebrations but the traditional Christmas tree in the public square is absent. In its place stands a sculpture in the shape of a tree made of recycled wood.

The municipality’s choice is part of a trend across France and beyond to favor sustainability over tradition, and it has highlighted political divides ahead of the presidential election in April next year.

“A felled tree is generally the product of a monoculture, and monoculture is very dangerous for the soil… and a felled tree is no longer present in nature to play its role in the capture of C02”, specifies Guy Tobacchi. , deputy mayor of the 12th arrondissement, which aims to eliminate downed Christmas trees from public places by 2026.

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It could be a challenge.

The traditionalists installed a potted conifer in front of the town hall, which the local authorities removed and planted in a wood on the outskirts of the town.

“A good Christmas is having a tree, lit up, with ribbons. It’s not the magic of Christmas,” said a grandmother and resident of the 12th arrondissement, who only gave herself like Anne.

The argument locked itself into the question of national identity and divided opinion along political lines.

“Being French is having a Christmas tree. It’s eating foie gras. It’s voting for Miss France and it’s the Tour de France because it’s France,” said Valérie Pécresse, candidate of the Les Républicains party, to a journalist from France 3 during a televised debate.

By contrast, eco-friendly mayors, including in the eastern city of Strasbourg, have banned foie gras from official events.

For Strasbourg city councilor Marc Hoffsess, hospitality can be just as French without gavage-fattened duck or goose liver pâté, deemed by many to be harmful to animal welfare and the environment.

“Identity can change. Do we have a conservative message where we cling to things from our history or do we have to carry a message that reconciles humans with issues concerning the survival of our planet?” he said.

In the southwestern port city of Bordeaux, people who opposed the 11-metre (36.09ft) glass tree erected by the municipality brought a traditional tree to the main square.

Didier Jeanjean, deputy mayor in charge of nature in Bordeaux, said the debate was healthy.

“The Eiffel Tower is now one of the most visited monuments in France but at the time it was one of the most criticized,” he said.

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Reporting by Layli Foroudi; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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