Editor's note: This story was originally published Dec. 2, 2016. We're bringing it back today in honor of the lighting of the 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City.
WASHINGTON (CIRCA) - The search for the perfect Christmas tree is real, whether it's for your living room or for a major city.
Originally developed in Germany, the Christmas tree caught on around the world in the 19th century, becoming a beloved hallmark of the holiday season. While it was once customary to set up the tree on Christmas Eve, most trees are now displayed for the entire holiday season, and they can get pretty extravagant.
Here's our definitive list of the most important and iconic Christmas trees around the world.
View this post on Instagram
🎄. . This year's tree was lit tonight. Kudos to the people that braved the cold rain to see it in person. Christmas has officially begun! . —•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•— . . #NYC #newyorkcity #manhattan #ig_nycity #gf_nyc #cbviews #igersofnyc #nbc4ny #icapture_nyc #ig_worldclub #ig_mood #instagood #EmpireStateOfMind #exploringtheglobe #beautifuldestinations #thisisnewyorkcity #what_i_saw_in_nyc #topnewyorkphoto #canonbringit #nyc_community #holidaylights #fox5ny #abc7ny #canonfanphoto #loves_nyc #nypostny #rockcenterxmas . —•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—•—
Let's get the obvious out of the way with the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
This year marked the 84th annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The tree lighting is broadcast live nationwide, and thousands gather in New York City each year to watch the ceremony.
The search for the perfect tree is led by Rockefeller Center's head gardener, Erik Pauze. The ideal tree is over 70 feet tall (this year's tree is 94 feet!) with symmetrical branches. While the earliest trees were decorated simply with cranberries and tin cans, the "Swarovski Star" has topped the tree since 2004 and weighs 550 pounds.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is also a pretty big deal, given its history.
Every year, the city of Oslo, Norway, donates a Christmas tree to the U.K. It's the city's way of continuing to express gratitude for British support during World War II. The tradition began in 1947, and a plaque at the base of the tree explains its history.
The tree is decorated with 500 white lights in the traditional Norwegian style, and the lighting ceremony takes place on the first Thursday in December. This year, many spectators made fun of the tree's slightly odd shape, saying that it more closely resembled a cucumber than a Christmas tree.
The Vatican Christmas tree in Saint Peter's Square is donated every year, too.
The very first Vatican Christmas tree came from Italy in 1982, and the Vatican now accepts a tree from a different European country or region each year. This year's tree is actually from Italy once again, but while the original tree was a fir, this one is a spruce. In the place of the donated tree, local children have planted 40 new seedlings.
The ornaments on this year's tree were created by Italian children in hospitals with cancer and other illnesses. Saint Peter's Square will also showcase a nativity scene from the island of Malta.
You can find the world's largest floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro.
The Guinness World Record for "largest floating Christmas tree" is actually a thing, and Rodrigo De Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro proudly holds the title. It was officially awarded the certificate in 2007.
The enormous tree is made of metal and weighs 386 tons. It currently stands at 174 feet tall, after being shortened by 98 feet last year following a collapse. There are literally millions of lights involved in illuminating the floating tree, and the lighting ceremony, which includes an elaborate fireworks display, is nothing short of spectacular.
In 2015, this humongous LEGO Christmas tree was displayed in Melbourne's Fed Square.
Melbourne's 2015 LEGO Christmas tree took over 1,200 hours to make. The tree is composed of more than 200,000 LEGO bricks, and even more bricks were used in the making of the life-size Santa Claus and his sleigh. If you look closely at the display, it's definitely meant for an Australian Christmas. The decorations include kookaburras, cricket and koalas. And the life-size Santa is holding his surfboard.
This year, Fed Square in Melbourne has a "Giant Christmas Bauble," which is still pretty cool but doesn't quite qualify for this list.
Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace broke the record for most expensive Christmas tree.
The hotel's Christmas tree from 2010 cost over $11 million to decorate. Yes, you read that correctly. It was covered in diamonds and precious gems from a local jeweler for a total of 181 pieces of expensive jewelry.
A few days after the tree was unveiled, the hotel tried to distance itself from the ostentatious display of wealth, claiming that its lobby was simply "a venue for exhibiting the tree" and that the jeweler had decorated the tree at no cost. But Emirates Palace is no stranger to wealth; the hotel was home to the first gold vending machine.
The "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree is absolutely, undeniably iconic.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is a staple of the holiday season. Making its debut in 1965, it's now aired every Christmas season, and the short animation has become a favorite of many.
In case you need a refresher, the entire animation centers around the tree. Just like Rockefeller Center's head gardener, Charlie Brown sets off in pursuit of the perfect tree. In the midst of aluminum trees, Charlie Brown settles on a real sapling. Spoiler warning: the tree ultimately brings all of the Peanuts together in a true feel-good moment celebrating the true spirit of Christmas.
And speaking of classic Christmas cartoons, you can't forget this scene from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
Just one year after "A Charlie Brown Christmas" first aired, the world was treated to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" The animation was based on Dr. Seuss's book of the same name from 1957, and it, too, has become a Christmas classic.
When the Grinch steals Christmas from Whoville, he takes everything, even a crumb that's too small for a mouse. So, of course, he steals the Christmas tree. But as he stuffs the tree into the chimney, an ornament falls off, waking a small girl named Cindy Lou Who. This scene is pretty much ingrained in our minds forever.
Oh, and there's also this memorable scene from "A Christmas Story," prominently featuring the family's Christmas tree.
Almost 20 years later, another eventual classic was released in theaters. The Christmas tree in "A Christmas Story" plays less of an active role than those in the previously mentioned movies, but it's just as important, serving as the backdrop for several notable scenes.
All Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun with a compass and a sundial. But on Christmas morning, he doesn't initially receive it, instead opening presents like the bunny pajamas from the above clip. When he later receives the gun he wanted, it's also in front of this Christmas tree.
These are probably the most important Christmas trees on the entire list. See how happy those lions are?
When you think about cats and Christmas trees, it's probably in the context of a cat totally destroying the tree and breaking a bunch of ornaments in the process. But did you know that Christmas trees are basically catnip to lions?
We cannot stop watching this video from last year of the lions at the U.K.'s Linton Zoo playing with Christmas trees. It's honestly a more captivating scene than any other tree on this list, which is an impressive feat given all of the competition. Sorry, Rockefeller Center. These are the most important Christmas trees ever.
And because you can never have too many videos of animals enjoying Christmas trees more than any human ever has, here are some elephants.