The tale of Tallinn’s most famous Christmas tree

Source: Jaanus Ree

The tale of Tallinn’s most famous Christmas tree

Source: Jaanus Ree

Tallinn Christmas Market is home to one of Europe's oldest holiday traditions.

History of Tallinn's famous tree

Winter wonderland

The historic Tallinn Town Hall overlooking market stalls.

Photo by: Toomas Volmer / Visit Estonia

Legend has it that the first Christmas tree was brought to Tallinn in 1441 by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a Livonian merchants' association. If this is true, that would make it the first Christmas tree placed in a town square in Europe, a claim debated by the city of Riga, where a similar tradition was started by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads around the same time. The ceremony of carrying the tree into the heart of Tallinn became quite an affair over time, attracting such nobility as Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia, who participated in the event in 1711.

The Christmas Market on the Town Hall Square

Handmade gifts

Choose from traditional handicrafts or modern design presents.

Photo by: Silver Tõnisson / Viist Estonia

Each year, the most famous Christmas market in Estonia unfurls on Tallinn's Town Hall Square with the Christmas tree as its crown jewel. An annual contest seeks out the most beautiful spruce tree in all of Estonia to become the market's centrepiece. This year, the tree was unveiled on November 9th and will adorn the Town Hall Square until January 28th. The tree is decorated with 50 LED light strands, 5,000 smaller lights, 2,500 larger lights and white, transparent orbs. It also has 240 red and gold balls, as well as 50 illuminated hearts.

Experience Christmas

Warm and toasty

Defrost with a coffee, tea or hot mulled wine at the market.

Photo by: Visit Estonia

The Christmas Market is open from November 17th to January 6th and is the perfect place to sip hot mulled wine and shop for traditional handicraft gifts. You can also check out nearby Estonian design shops for modern presents. If you'd like to sample some typical Estonian Christmas food, try gingerbread, black pudding and sauerkraut at the market, or venture to a local restaurant for a feast. In old Estonia, the Christmas Eve meal marked the end of fasting and one ought to eat nine or twelve servings to bring good luck for the new year. The Tallinn Christmas Market is one of the most charming and affordable in Europe, just one of many reasons Tallinn is ranked the world's best value destination for 2018 by Lonely Planet.

Last updated : 04.12.2017

In category: Tallinn, History & Culture

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