As it is common in these cases, the origin of the Christmas tree includes all kinds of legends, from those who attribute it to St. Boniface in the eighth century to those who associate Tannenbaum with none other than Martin Luther. What almost all agree is that it is a German or Scandinavian custom that spread throughout the nineteenth century in other parts of Europe.
The tree left Germany through Albert of Saxony, husband of Queen Victoria of England, who had it planted for the first time in his Kingdom around 1840. In the case of Spain, the introducer of this custom was a very popular Russian princess, conspiratorial and admired among the high society of Madrid, whose social and political biography could overshadow the brightest Christmas tree in the world.
Sophia Troubetzkoy was born in 1838 in St. Petersburg, and although she was officially the daughter of a Russian cavalry officer, Prince Sergio Troubetzkoy, everyone knew that her real father was Tsar Nicholas I.The mother, Charlotte of Prussia, was the same in the two versions.
Famous as one of the most beautiful women of the European aristocracy, the princess widowed in 1865 from a stepbrother of Napoleon III and four years later she married José Isidro Osorio and Silva-Bazán (Pepe Osorio), Duke of Sesto, Marquis de Alcañices and mayor of Madrid between 1856 and 1865, with the consent of the then already overthrown Isabel II.
The marriage was installed in the Palace of Alcañices of Madrid-a building now disappeared and located on the current site of the Bank of Spain, which immediately became the center of the conspiracy of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo to overthrow Amadeo de Saboya and restore the Bourbons.
In fact, the Dukes of Sesto not only contributed (and was ruined) between 15 and 20 million reals to the cause, but the Russian princess made the necessary arrangements to get his native country was the first to recognize Alfonso XII as King of Spain and was dedicated to mobilize all the great ladies of Madrid (the Rebellion of Mantillas) to isolate the Italian royal couple. “Alfonso, give your hand to Pepe, who has managed to make you King”, said Isabel II to her son.
It was precisely in the Alcañices Palace where, in 1870, Sofia Troubetzkoy planted the first known Christmas tree in Spain, a custom widespread in other parts of Europe and very rooted in Russia itself (elka).
By then, the Russian princess had already won Madrid high society with her knowledge of the fashions and good uses of the best European salons, so the example spread and became custom. When Sofia died in Madrid in 1898, the Christmas tree had already taken root in the city and in the rest of her host country.