This initiative, promoted by the Association of United Residents of Apelação (a town in Portugal), was born in May, and the initial idea was to build a small crochet tree 10 or 12 feet tall.
However, as the months went by, the tree grew as the number of volunteer knitters grew. By November, the Christmas tree had surpassed 55 feet.
This surpassed the Guinness World Record held by a crocheted tree measuring 52.2 feet that was created last year in Ecuador.
An inclusive project
The ultimate goal of this project was to get the elderly women of the village out of their houses to interact with each other after two years of confinement due to the pandemic.
So, the association proposed the idea and, according to the coordinator of the project, their expectations were exceeded. The response of the population was spectacular: the team ended up being formed by more than 70 women aged 11 to 88 years old.
Every afternoon they gathered in the assembly hall of the parish of Apelação and crocheted. Square by square, they knitted more than 9,000 multicolored pieces that they then assembled to make a spectacular Christmas tree that was inaugurated on December 3.
Promoting quality of life
As they explain on their Facebook page, the association aims to “promote and ensure the quality of life of the inhabitants of the parish of Apelação, through the continuous improvement of living conditions, sociability, and social integration, promoting actions that include support and protection, mainly for families, children, youth, and the elderly.”
In addition, the Association has a special concern for the most socially excluded sectors of the population, and consequently works to achieve integration of the immigrant population and ethnic minorities.
The plan worked; women of all ages and from different cultures have participated in this Christmas project. They’ve been involved in intergenerational and intercultural interactions, they’ve established bridges of communication, and they’ve combated the isolation of many women who, without this project, would have stayed at home.
The women have strengthened their bonds of friendship thanks to working together for 211 days, including more than 5,000 hours together during which they got to know each other better and experienced moments of companionship and mutual appreciation.
Christmas brings us together
The work of joining the small crocheted squares has helped unite the community of Apelação. This large tree – more than 55 feet tall – which now holds the title of being the largest handmade tree in the world, is the image of the community spirit and inclusiveness that has presided over its construction.
Many local businesses and institutions sponsored the project and provided the means and funds to achieve this goal. Even the firemen got involved, climbing up the triangular metal structure that gives shape to the colorful tree in order to hang the fabric.
An endearing children’s choir and the Municipal Orchestra of Loures, the municipality to which Apelação belongs, took part in the inauguration of the tree, which will be on display until January 6.
Fundraising for the needy
In addition, the project’s volunteers also organized a Christmas craft sale next to the tree to raise funds and make food baskets for the most needy in the community. Their slogan is, “Please help us to help.”