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Upside-down Christmas tree returns with imitators and controversy

Last year’s 50-foot-tall Instagram hit set off a trend

Photo by Brock Keeling

The Westfield Shopping Centre’s 50-foot-tall, upside-down Christmas tree—as seen all over Instagram last holiday season—returns for a second year suspended from the San Francisco mall’s signature dome. While the official lighting will happen on November 30, shoppers can see it in all of its inverted glory today.

The chandelier-like tree, covered in crystals, first appeared in 2016, when Curbed SF praised the mall’s designers for creating a holiday visage that would attract social media tags throughout the season.

Now it appears that inverted trees have caught on worldwide. There’s one at the Claridge’s Hotel in London this year, and another at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego.

Even Target and Amazon now sell artificial trees designed for inverted display (to the confusion of some), although none of these examples include Westfield’s additional innovation of hanging the tree high above visitor’s heads.

The tree mid-installation.
The tree mid-installation.
Photos by Adam Brinklow

The Yuletide trend even managed to deliver some controversy, as a former Trump campaign advisor chided the trend on Fox News, dubbing it “everything that is wrong” in America.

However, the Spruce, a home decor site, claims that newfangled tree hanging practice go back a long way:

If you've seen upside-down Christmas trees for sale in stores or through online vendors and thought they were modern, space-saving versions of traditional Christmas trees, think again. The tradition of hanging a Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling is an old one in Central and Eastern Europe.

The first records of a tree being decorated date to the 1500s at Riga, Latvia. The early trees were a symbol of the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden and were decorated with food and flowers to denote abundance.

Upside-down Christmas trees are common among many Slavic groups—Carpatho-Rusyns, Poles, Slovaks, and Ukrainians.

The official Westfield tree lighting takes place November 30 at 6 p.m.

Westfield Shopping Centre

865 Market Street , San Francisco, CA 94103