EUROPE: A holiday trend is taking the continent by storm. No, they're not figuring out how to get out of debt, nor are they suddenly into American football- after all, this isn't a Christmas miracle. Instead, countries all over Europe are using objects to form Christmas trees, instead of the real thing.
It all started when Brussels went with a modernistic approach to promote a secular version of Christmas this winter and put a sculpture made of boxes resembling a tree in the square instead of a traditional one. Others soon followed, seeing it as a useful excuse to ditch the painstaking efforts of hauling in a true 60-foot monster from somewhere else.
"Europe is looking to cut down on its expenses." said Neil Vincent, a British economist, "Putting in a fake tree will save the government a lot of money over the next decade and beyond."
In Ukraine, a scrap metal sculpture in the vague shape of a triangle in the city center. Germany went with old telephone wires (they call it a new way to recycle). Luxembourg went with a plastic sculpture filled with thousands of LED lights. Switzerland has one made from recycled skis.
One country, Ireland, took it a step further. The government contractors, in their usual drunken state, tried to create a Christmas tree sculpture out of live cows.
"No, that didn't go quite as planned." Vincent laughed.
However, many countries are continuing the tradition of keeping the live tree in the center- including France, Britain, and Belarus, whose governments have all criticized the other countries for the ugliness of their squares, claiming that t"he sculptures are so hideous that property values have dropped anywhere that the messed were visible."
The trend is unlikely to spread far beyond the continent, and Americans should not worry about the replacement of their beloved trees.