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The Most Breathtaking, Inspiring Christmas Trees Of 2016

09/12/2016 9:07 AM AEDT | Updated 13/12/2016 6:58 AM AEDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
The national Christmas tree stands in Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Putting up a Christmas tree is a cherished holiday ritual for many families around the globe. But the tradition has changed drastically over the years.

Wealthy German families began bringing trees into their homes during Christmastime in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The trees were often decorated with wax candles, sweets, and apples. It was a magical sight, but also a real fire hazard.

The creation of the first light bulb changed the tradition dramatically. During Christmas of 1880, the inventor Thomas Edison hung a strand of electric lights outside his laboratory in New Jersey. In 1882, his friend and partner Edward H. Johnson had the idea to string 80 red, white and blue light bulbs around his Christmas tree.

Decades later, Christmas trees have evolved into fantastic displays of creativity, featuring thousands of multi-colored electric lights and strings. From Tokyo to Bethlehem, here are some of 2016’s most over-the-top Christmas trees.

  • Tokyo, Japan
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    People look at a Christmas tree at Kitte commercial complex in Tokyo's shopping and business district of Marunouchi, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.
  • Vilnius, Lithuania
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    The national Christmas tree stands in Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. 
  • Prague, Czech Republic
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    The illuminated Christmas tree at the Christmas market at Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic on December 1, 2016. Christmas markets, traditionally selling roasted chestnuts, hot mead and Christmas tree decorations amongst other products opened across the Czech Republic during the first Advent weekend. 
  • Washington, D.C.
    Mark Wilson via Getty Images
    The National Christmas Tree is lit up after US President Barack Obama and his family hit the switch, on December 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. This year is the 94th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
  • Ramallah, West Bank
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    People attend a ceremony to illuminate a Christmas tree planted at the Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah, West Bank on December 4, 2016. 
  • Rakvere, Estonia
    Ints Kalnins / Reuters
    People gather near a kinetic Christmas tree in Rakvere, Estonia, November 27, 2016. 
  • Budapest, Hungary
    Marco Secchi via Getty Images
    A Christmas tree is seen in one of the main shopping streets in the City Centre on December 2, 2016 in Budapest, Hungary. 
  • London, England
    Stuart C. Wilson via Getty Images
    The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on December 1, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. The tree, a Norwegian Spruce, is donated to London by Oslo in a tradition dating back to 1947. The annual gift is to show lasting gratitude for the support Britain gave Norway during the Second World War. 
  • Mandaluyong City, the Philippines
    Pacific Press via Getty Images
    The glamorous thirty feet tall rotating Christmas tree unveiled in Mandaluyong City. The elegant centerpiece Christmas decoration is found inside the fashion hall of SM Megamall.
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
    NurPhoto via Getty Images
    Hundreds of fans watched the inauguration of the traditional Ibirapuera Christmas Tree in the South Zone of Sao Paulo. The inauguration had fireworks and artificial snow burning. The tree is 35 meters high, 16 meters in diameter and has an eight-meter star at the top. 
  • Chicago, Illinois
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    Luiza Canovas, left, and Guilherme Franco from Sao Paulo take a selfie with the Millennium Park Christmas tree from a terrace in a timed exposure with a zoom lens Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Chicago. 
  • Berlin, Germany
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Visitors walk in front of the illuminated Christmas tree near the Christmas market at the Potsdamer Platz square in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. 
  • Zgharta, Lebanon
    Omar Ibrahim / Reuters
    People gather under a Christmas Tree, marking the beginning of Christmas season in Zgharta city, north Lebanon December 3, 2016. 
  • Madrid, Spain
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    People walk in the Puerta del Sol square in front of an illuminated Christmas tree in central Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016.  
  • Bethlehem, West Bank
    Mussa Qawasma / Reuters
    Fireworks explode during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 3, 2016.
  • London, England
    Tristan Fewings via Getty Images
    Artists from Cirque du Soleil perform as St Pancras Station unveils it's Cirque du Soleil 'Amaluna' Christmas tree on November 21, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. 
  • Strasbourg, France
    PATRICK HERTZOG via Getty Images
    People walk near the Christmas tree during the traditional Christmas market, in Strasbourg, eastern France, on November 28, 2016. 
  • Berlin, Germany
    Adam Berry via Getty Images
    A shopper photographs another with a mobile phone in front of a Christmas tree in a shopping mall on November 30, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. 
  • Warsaw, Poland
    JANEK SKARZYNSKI via Getty Images
    The Christmas tree is illuminated at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland on December 3, 2016. 
  • Byblos, Lebanon
    Jamal Saidi / Reuters
    People gather around an illuminated Christmas tree in Byblos city in northern Lebanon November 24, 2016. 
  • New York, New York
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Rockefeller Christmas tree stands lit during the 84th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center on November 30, 2016 in New York City. 

Update: The article has been updated to reflect AP standards on how to refer to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem.

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