Tree of Happiness

When the Christmas market is happening at Rathausplatz, the trees in the surrounding park are illuminated festively. The tree in the picture is among them (Sorry for the bad quality; photos in the dark aren’t my camera’s strength). When my friends and I first saw it many years ago, we almost broke down laughing. I understand that the tree is very popular among children and visitors, but it is also an excellent example of the cultural contingency of symbols. The thing is, when you head into town in Austria (and other European countries)  and you come across a building that has red, illuminated hearts in the window, then you know that this is a special place where men, well, go to find temporary happiness, let’s put it this way. Thus, a tree in the dark park full of illuminated red hearts inevitably evokes in many people the association of venal love.  So, next time you walk around in this area and see locals with a smirk on their face, there is a chance of the tree being the reason for it.


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