Crediton Parish Church’s famous Christmas Tree Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each year, could not go ahead this year for obvious reasons. But to keep the spirit of this joyous event alive, the Church has posted pictures of Christmas trees around the town as part of a festive Treasure Trail. Our picture editor Nancy Murgatroyd reports on Crediton’s historic link with the Christmas tree tradition and shares some stunning images of previous Christmas Tree Festivals.
At Crediton Parish Church the tall Christmas tree is in its place, next to the high altar and is a scintillating sight bedecked with tinsel, balls and lights. Erecting it must be quite a task which requires experience and a head for heights but what a joy it is.
Sadly, due to Covid, the Christmas Tree Festival could not take place this year. It generally attracts about 4000 people and involves many volunteers along with all the organisations that decorate the trees. Hopefully, it will return in its full glory next year.
Crediton and Saint Boniface are synonymous with Christmas trees. The story goes that St Boniface, who was born in Crediton around 680AD and became a missionary, came across pagans in Germany worshipping an oak tree. He chopped it down and up in its place sprang a fir tree, evergreen and pointing to heaven.
Boniface was later murdered and buried in Germany, where centuries later the Christmas tree tradition was born, said to be linked to St Boniface’s legendary fir tree. In 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shown, in the London Illustrated News, standing around a Christmas tree with their children, and the idea took hold.
This Christmas the Church has created a Christmas Tree Treasure Trail around Crediton’s High Street. This is one of a number of activities organised to fill the vacuum of the Christmas Tree Festival, including colouring and card making competitions. It is hoped the Trail will also boost footfall and trade on the High Street at this difficult time.
Eighteen posters of Christmas trees will appear from 5 December in various shop windows and locations near the High Street. Each “tree” will have a unique Christmas carol or song on it with a special letter highlighted.
The 18 letters, when rearranged, will form a phrase associated with Crediton. Participants who correctly identify all the 18 carols/songs and solve the puzzle can enter a prize draw with the first correct entry drawn by the Rector after the closing date of 3rd January 2021.
There is no fee to take part or to enter the draw.
You can find out more details about the Treasure Trail here.