One floor up from the main entrance, standing in a big bay-window, is a densely decorated Christmas tree almost three metres tall. It is the Champion Tree. Any Slovak will recognize the decorations -- they are ours. And now any visitor to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa can learn what Christmas means to the Slovak nation.
Andrea Fabusova was the leader of the group that won. Her airline ticket to Slovakia for the holidays kept her away Nov.29 from the champion tree decoration, but her team of Katka Koziakova, Zora Menhartova, Jana Paškova, and Jana Hanzel duplicated their work of last year.
Slovaks won the right last year to beautify the tallest treein the Museum’s Christmas first competition display. There were 19 two-metre trees decorated by various organizations including Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs, Caribbean and Latin American countries, and Ottawa civic societies.
In the end, 9,000 visitors voted, and Slovakia won. The tall tree this year stands in the show-off area, and competitors nearby are still the smaller size.
Staff and visitors to the museum called it the “cookie tree” because so many of the decorations are medovniky. Slovaks knows the spiced ginger cookies, baked in many different shapes and artistic colorings.
Unfortunately, because of science and legal requirements, our champion tree this year had to have medovniky made of Play-Doh. Nothing edible to humans, or capable of attracting insects, can be on the trees. So the fruit decorations are artificial and even the walnuts had to be opened, the nuts removed, and the shells glued back together.
The tree competition this year lasts through all of December and up to Jan.9, 2012. Champions cannot compete the year they can show off, so next year some other community group gets a chance to be as good as we Slovaks have been for centuries.