A little Christmas story
The scent of freshly roasted chestnuts, the clink of glasses filled with punch and mulled wine and the sound traditional Christmas songs all fill the Advent market by Schönbrunn Palace with the magic of Christmas. Children look up at the splendidly decorated Christmas tree outside the palace with wide shining eyes. “What a pretty Christmas tree!” says a little girl to her grandfather in delight. He kneels down next to his granddaughter and asks her if she would like to hear the story of the Christmas tree. She nods excitedly and gives her grandfather a hug.
“This spruce tree that you can see here is very special! It was planted around 120 years ago by a little boy called Franz from the Pinzgau region. He looked after it every day. When the spruce tree was still very small, he kept watering it until it was big and strong enough to take up groundwater with its own roots. Not a day went by when Franz didn’t go to visit his spruce tree, and one day he started taking along his own son, little Josef.
The seasons passed. One day, the first signs of winter arrived. The days got shorter and the temperatures got colder. So Josef knew that the Christmas market in their village would soon be opening and that he would be going to the forest with his father Franz to look for a beautiful, bright green fir tree for the Christmas market.
Right on time for the start of the Christmas market, the 20-metre-tall fir tree had been splendidly decorated – just like this spruce tree here – and was standing by the church in the village square, bringing joy to all the children. But the night before Christmas Eve, there was a terrible storm. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled so hard that the ground shook. Some of the baubles from the Christmas tree were torn into the air, others smashed against the paving stones. Suddenly, the sound of sirens could be heard – the fire brigade had been called out because lightning had struck the fir tree and set it on fire. Although the firemen managed to put out the fire, all that was left of the fir tree was the star that had been decorating the top of it. All the children were very upset, and little Josef couldn’t hold back his tears either. So Franz decided that one day, when his spruce tree had grown 20 metres tall, it would brighten a Christmas market and make children happy. The years went by, the spruce tree grew and eventually little Josef became a father, too. Just like Josef used to go to see the spruce tree in the forest with his father Franz, now he took his own son Hannes into the forest with him.” “Hannes? HANNES! That’s your name, Grandpa!!!” cries out the little girl in excitement. “Yes, that’s me. My father, Josef, told me this story about the fir tree and the Christmas tree and later I told it to your father, Matthias. When Schönbrunn Palace was looking for a Christmas tree at the beginning of this year, we knew that the time had come for the spruce to take up its job as a Christmas tree. You know that your dad works for Österreichische Bundesforste (the Austrian federal forestry company). So at the start of November, your dad and his colleagues headed off to Pinzgau. In Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse, the 120-year-old, 20-metre-tall spruce tree was lifted out of the forest with a cable crane and loaded onto a lorry with a wood trailer. That was also my last ever transfer with my lorry and EPSILON crane – I couldn’t have wished for any better way of bringing my career to a close!”
Suddenly someone taps on Hannes’ shoulder: “Here’s your mulled wine, Dad!” Hannes turns around and sees his son Matthias. “Isn’t the spruce tree beautiful, Dad? If only Great-Grandpa Franz could see it!” At that moment, the first snow of the year starts falling, and Hannes knows that his grandfather Franz is with them.