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Brussels Christmas tree is gift from Latvia
The Christmas tree erected annually on Brussels’ Grand Place traditionally comes from the Ardennes, in the south of Belgium. But this year the tree comes from the Tireliwoud, near the Latvian capital Riga. The 18-metre high fir was felled yesterday morning and made a nearly 2,000-km journey to arrive in the European capital this morning. "We accepted Riga’s gift with pleasure," said Tourism Minister Philippe Close.
Two years ago, the electronic “Christmas tree” was the centre of controversy in Brussels, with many residents and tourists unhappy with the modern light installation. Therefore the city last year opted for the traditional fir from the Ardennes. This year, Brussels again chooses for a real tree, but this time from Latvia.
“The idea to donate a Christmas tree to Brussels came up in April," said Nils Usakovs, mayor of Riga. “It makes sense because Brussels is the capital of Europe and Riga is the 2014 European Capital of Culture. In this way, many Brussels residents and tourists will be able to enjoy one of the most beautiful spruces in the world. Moreover, we can promote our country as a holiday destination.”
Close is also satisfied with the partnership. “Normally we get the Christmas tree in the Ardennes or on the German border, but this year we got this beautiful gift from Riga. Both the tree and the transport are fully financed by the Latvian capital.”