Spanish media said that the custom of putting a fir tree in the house for the New Year and decorating it was adopted by the Madrid nobility in the 19th century from the Russian princess Sophia Trubetskoy. Before this, there was no such tradition in Spain.
Sofia Trubetskaya was married to José Osorio y Silva, the powerful Marquis of Alcañez, cousin of Empress Eugenia, and was one of the most influential ladies in Madrid’s high society. According to her contemporaries, she was a beautiful, elegant and intelligent woman.
Sofia Trubetskaya, portrait by F. Winterhalter (1863)
If Trubetskaya wore some kind of hat, all of Madrid would lie down in search of one similar, and if she wore a mantilla, the mantilla became the most popular accessory. In short, the princess was a pioneer in the Spanish capital.
It is not surprising that when a decorated fir-tree appeared in her husband’s palace, the custom was adopted first in high society, and then by ordinary citizens.
It is generally accepted that Sophia Trubetskaya is the illegitimate daughter of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, who was forcibly married to Prince Sergei Trubetskoy and his mistress Ekaterina Musina-Pushkina, who had a rather long pregnancy.
One way or another, Sofya Trubetskaya grew up in a house where the celebration of the New Year and the decoration of fir trees was a tradition, and when she got married, she introduced the same custom into her new family.