The town hall in the 12th arrondissement of Paris decided to go for a tree-shaped sculpture made of recycled wood instead of a traditional Christmas tree this year.
“A tree that is chopped down is no longer present in nature to play its role in the capture of CO2,” said Guy Tabacchi, deputy mayor for the 12th arrondissement, whose goal is to eliminate felled Christmas trees from public spaces by 2026.
But some residents miss the Christmas tradition of a real tree, saying “there is no Christmas magic” and “a real Christmas is with a Christmas tree lit up, with ribbons”.
“The French identity does not boil down to a tree. When we look at the history of Christmas trees in history, we will realise that it took on different elements, different forms, based on the different time periods,” Tabacchii told news agency Reuters.
Banning foie gras
There has been an increase in the discussion around French customs, as the issue of national identity becomes more important ahead of the presidential election next year.
“To be French is to have a Christmas tree, it is to eat foie gras, it is to vote for Miss France, and it is the Tour de France because that is France,” Valérie Pécresse, candidate for the Les Republicains party, told a France 3 journalist during a TV debate.
Her comments came after several cities, including Strasbourg and Lyon, announced foie gras would be banned from official events because it harms animals and the environment. Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks or geese to fatten their liver.
Marc Hofssess, deputy mayor in charge of Strasbourg’s ecological transformation, argued that banning foie gras or using a fake tree is also part of France’s hospitality.
“Do we have a conservative message where we cling to things from our history, from French history, or should we carry a message that reconciles humans with what is at stake concerning the survival of our planet?” he said.
“I will say I’m a hypocrite, yes I know that it’s not good, I know it hurts them, I know the ducks and geese don’t even manage to walk with their livers so stuffed, but unfortunately, it will not end today,” Parisian Marion Perin said when she was asked on the streets about foie gras.
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