"We want a real Christmas tree on the Grote Markt"
This year for a first time Brussels historic market square will not be embellished with a real Christmas tree during the festive season.
Sponsor Electrabel has decided to erect an ‘electronic tree’ consisting of a series of screens or monitors. The decision has sparked controversy in the European capital.
There are claims that the pagan fertility symbol adopted by Christians has today become a symbol that is too Christian for Brussels and has been jettisoned as a result. A whopping 12,000 people have already signed a petition calling for "respect for our values and traditions".
Flemish Christian democrat councillor Bianca Debaets believes that the reference to the religious was what settled the matter in Brussels: "What will be next? Will all Easter eggs be banned in Brussels because they are a reference to Easter?"
Ms Debaets' remarks soon went viral on social networking sites on the Internet.
"We want a real Christmas tree on the Grote Markt" said one comment on lapetition.be. "After the banning of pork at school and the change in the name of the Christmas Market to Winter Fun we are now demanding greater respect for our values and traditions."
The City of Brussels has denied that any religious motives played a role. Burgomaster Freddy Thielemans: "The electronic Christmas tree is an ode to the traditional fir tree. Together with the Nativity scene it will provide a worthy symbol of our cultural tradition."
The mayor was keen to add that the Nativity scene with the Baby Jesus in a manger would certainly not be removed too.
[Flandersnews.be / Expatica]