A petition calling for a real Christmas tree in Brussels’ Grand Place has attracted 10,000 signatures.
Angering traditionalists, the Belgian city’s tourist board has commissioned a 25-metre installation made from screens that will put on light and sound displays.
Reassuring people that the festivities will be just as authentic, president of Brussels Tourism Philippe Close said: “Let’s be clear, there’ll be a Christmas tree and a nativity scene. Christmas traditions will be respected.
“The theme this year is “winter pleasures” at the huge Christmas market that has a worldwide reputation. We wanted to emphasize culture and modernity, so asked artists to reinvent the Christmas tree, which is actually a pagan symbol,” he explained.
There have been attempts to stir racial tensions, with some falsely blaming the switch from the usual real Christmas tree on offended Muslims.