Canada's inverted Christmas tree

Toronto’s first ever inverted Christmas tree lit up

(Last Updated On: April 5, 2023)

The first ever inverted Christmas tree in Toronto was lit up last week at QRC West to bring the old and new together, said the chief operating officer of the restaurant who put it up.

Chris Glaessel, who has been with Ricarda’s restaurant for eight months, said that the design of the office tower – an old-fashioned brick building and modern atrium – works well with the inverted Christmas tree.

“It’s building a perfect bridge between the old, which is the brick five-storey building dating back to 1912, and the very modern atrium,” Glaessel said at the tree lighting event, Atrium Lights.

“We thought a traditional Christmas tree, upright and possibly a real Christmas tree, would not give respect to the design that the building has.”

Around 150 people gathered at QRC West on Nov. 29 to watch the lighting of the tree.

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Glaessel said that he came up with the idea to hang an inverted Christmas tree from the ceiling after discovering a tradition from Central Europe dating back to the eighth century. 

“There were actually many people [in the eighth century] who started hanging their Christmas trees upside down from the ceiling,” said Glaessel. “Both because their lives were turned upside down in a spiritual way and at the same time because they had very limited living space. It’s a very humble gesture.”

Michael Emory, the CEO of development company Allied Properties REIT, gave Ricarda’s permission to put the inverted Christmas tree up at QRC West.

“We thought it would be a wonderful event for the community that constitutes the building, the people who use the building and the surrounding neighbourhood. I think it’s a very visually beautiful idea,” Emory said. “I think it’s unusual, and I like that it has a historic precedence…. I think it’s consistent with this marvelous atrium.”

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When Emory pushed the button to light up the inverted Christmas tree, red, blue and green spotlights spun around on the ground, illuminating the tree. Shining white spotlights lit up the tree as its white and yellow lights turned on.

With the white light still beaming up onto the Christmas tree, projections of white snowflakes on a blue background moved across the lit up inverted Christmas tree. The inverted tree, with all of its colours, flooded the room with red, blue, green and purple.

To build Christmas spirit before the tree was lit up, the St. John’s York Mills Anglican Church Handbell Choir played “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” When they played “Little Drummer Boy,” people walked down a staircase holding candles. A man playing a drum came down the staircase as “Little Drummer Boy” ended.

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The Orpheus Choir Toronto also performed some Christmas songs such as “White Christmas” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

People enjoyed the mulled wine, hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies that Ricarda’s handed out along with free Christmas ornaments.

Michele Ballestin, an event attendee, loved that the Christmas tree was hung upside down from the ceiling.

“It’s awesome. It’s different from what we usually see,” said Ballestin. “It’s giving me an idea to try doing this at home. I’m interested in architecture, so this is something that’s [interesting].”

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