BRAGANÇA PAULISTA — Brazilians are very serious about their Christmas trees. And the different fortunes of two unusual ones is proof of just how strict the standards of what is and isn’t acceptable as decoration can be in this festive Catholic country.
A few weeks ago, the city of Rio de Janeiro started the holiday celebrations with great pomp by boasting the largest ever “floating tree,” an 85-meter high structure loaded with 3.1 million micro bulbs and weighing a colossal 542 tons. Neither the absence of an actual tree nor even the slightly outrageous scale and cost of such a demonstrative feat seemed to cause much stir in public opinion.
Compare that to the dramatic fate of a tree made out of recycled material in the city of Bragança Paulista, in the state of São Paulo. The experimental structure didn’t even survive 12 hours after it was inaugurated, falling victim to what Folha de S. Paulo described as an “online bullying campaign.” Residents were quick to turn to social media to mock the rather misshapen structure, ornate with old Christmas decorations.
“It’s plainly horrible, no creativity whatsoever,” complained one woman. “Let’s do a real recycled tree but with care, not a piece of garbage like this.”
Faced with the discontent of his city’s inhabitants, the head of the local community, Fernão Dias da Silva Leme decided to take the recycled tree down. “It didn’t fit the Christmas context,” he told the newspaper. “I found it ugly, the people found it ugly so I wasn’t going to let such a thing in the city.”
Photo: Fabio Delduque