Russia's main Christmas tree sets out for Kremlin

A tradition dating back to the 17th century has heralded the start of the holiday season in Russia. A 109-year-old fir tree has been cut down near Moscow, and will be erected in Cathedral Square in the Kremlin on Thursday. Thousands of people flock to see

The 30-metre tall tree will be decorated with over a thousand toys, including the all-important traditional star.

In the 17th century Tsar Peter the Great brought the concept with him after travelling through Europe.

The first New Year trees appeared in the homes of rich families in St. Petersburg, which was then Russia's capital.

But the 1920s saw an end to the colourful practice. It was initially banned in the USSR as it was considered a “capitalistic and religious prejudice”; but the tradition was revived 17 years later.

Since the 1940s the fir tree has become the symbol of New Year celebrations in Russia.

Seeing the Kremlin tree remains one of the country's main New Year events for ordinary Russians. Security around the tree has been tight in recent weeks, as final preparations were made to chop it down.