Pining for Christmas Trees in Barbados

Pining for Christmas Trees in Barbados

A Caribbean Christmas tree

A Caribbean Christmas

When I was a kid growing up in Colorado, my father and brothers would go into the mountains and cut down a charmingly misshapen pine tree, tie it with rope to the top of the family station wagon, and haul it home.  In snowy, mountainous Colorado it makes sense to have a fresh pine Christmas tree.

The ideal winter wonderland at Mama Mia restaurant: "snowy" in appearance only.

The ideal winter wonderland at Mama Mia restaurant: "snowy" in appearance only; leave your snow boots at home.

But what if you grow up in Barbados? What sort of Christmas tree would you have if you lived in the tropics?  Before I moved to Barbados, I guess I would have imagined kids decorating a palm with lights and Christmas bulbs. I mean, isn’t it the idea of a tree that makes the holiday festive? Does a tree actually have to be pine to be a Christmas tree?

I guess it does. Because everywhere I go, I see fresh pine Christmas trees. I’m suffering sensory confusion. I mean,

sea breeze + blue sea + 80 degrees + …. fresh pine scent …. ??

My next door neighbor, who dragged a huge pine up the steps to her apartment leaving a wake of small green needles, told me her tree was from Canada.  She gets a live pine tree each Christmas, she said, because she loves the pine scent wafting through her home. The cargo cult is also fueled by live pines imported from the U.S.

Barbados isn’t the only island with a winter-wonderland fantasy. In the past few weeks I’ve been to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico. Decorated live pines are ubiquitous … just like my Colorado childhood, only with more perfectly formed trees and a decidedly strange context.

I suppose I’ll get used to seeing live pine trees in Barbados. Right now, though, I just want to hoist my skis on my shoulder and hunt for snow.

14 Responses to “Pining for Christmas Trees in Barbados”

  1. Greg says:

    Of course, we in the Caribbean buy into the US version of Christmas lock, stock and barrel. (Actually, this is true in most countries around the world.) If you have a local tree these days, people look down on you, as though you can’t afford the “real thing”. But I’m told we get North American spruce trees here, which are not “true” pines…

  2. Julie says:

    First, nice blog! I reallly like the way you write about your living in Barbados!
    I live in Montreal, Canada where we are, right now, already flooded by lots of snow…almost all the ski hills are open for business and we’it looks like it’s definately will be a white Xmas…Except, WE’ll be spending it…in Hawaii! Hopefully, we’ll be in Barbados next year…I’m currently looking into that option. Anyway, even if there are lots and lots of natural pine trees available here, most people buy the artificial ones…so there is no need to look down on people who do!!!
    I think it’s nice to spend some time in warm weather during winter but, really I would not be able to spend the whole year there, since skiing is really too much fun!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with your readers!

  3. Kyle says:

    Im not sure about the being looked down upon part, but it’s just the thing to do. It has become tradition, most people get the fake trees as some people now are allergic to the real ones. There may not be snow here but we make it do. we don’t really celebrate thanksgiving here but supermarkets push the sale of turkey around that time. Julie if Barbados is on your list to visit you wont be disappointed and i’m sure it wouldn’t be your last visit… assuming this one will be your first. Also check out Jane’s accommodation, the view an quality is to die for. Merry Christmas Jane an all your readers, and i hope you all have a happy and fun filled new year

  4. Rod says:

    The view from Mama Mia restaurant looks like it could be
    anywhere in the Boston area.The light streaming through the windows gives the appearance of snow reflected sun.

    Greg is technically correct by offering a distinction between pine
    trees and spruce.Most of the Christmas trees harvested are spruce
    and are taken from Nova Scotia,Canada.It would be tough for me,as a New Englander,to reconcile the smell of spruce with
    the smell of sunscreen.But, I do have a new appreciation for the
    people there that love this tradition.What’s next? Vince Guiladi
    (Charlie Brown music) on a sandy beach with cocktails?
    I could get into that.

  5. Even growing up in Colorado I failed to glean a deep knowledge of the different pines … However, even with my limited knowledge on pines, a Blue Spruce definitely qualifies. In any case, heavy with decorations, who’d know whether anyone has a “true” … or “false” … pine, esp when they all smell so wonderful and Christmas-y?

  6. Hello, Julie, and thanks for reminding me, as I sit on my sun patio with windows flung open and sun streaming in, that some areas of our globe are covered in snow. Yes, it’s good for skiing, no doubt about that, and as it’s falling I find the world such a peaceful place. Still, though, I bet you’ll just love the break that Hawaii provides. I’m glad you’re giving Barbados a look …if you do pay us a visit, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the two places compare as vacation destinations.

  7. Kyle, thank you for the plug; you are so kind. You’re so right about the view … Of the many places I’ve traveled, I have to say I’ve never been happier with a view than the one offered seaside in Barbados.

    Merry Christmas to you, too, Kyle! Thanks for participating in my blog; I appreciate your comments so much.

  8. Good morning, Rod. I read your comment last night and am still chuckling over the image of Charlie Brown music on a sandy beach, rum punch in hand. Let’s add a sunset to that image… Now that you’ve put this in my mind, it is exactly what I intend to do!!

    Thanks for writing. If you’ve never been to Barbados, I hope you make the trek down from Boston. You won’t be sorry …. of course, you’re more likely to hear Bob Marley than Vince Guaraldi.

  9. Rod says:

    hi Jane,

    Thanks for enlightening me on the correct spelling for Vince
    Guaraldi.I can’t get enough of his music.I went to the music store last year and found a CD that had some outtakes of Luicy and Linus.
    He has a jazz-up version of his Charlie Brown music.I have forgotten
    the name of the CD.But,it’s fabulous.

    If and when I go to Barbados,it will be some year at Easter weekend.
    I would love to witness the Easter parade featuring the children with
    flowers in their hair.The very best Christmas to you and Greg.

  10. Easter is a wonderful time to visit Barbados, Rod, and the traditions are rich. I’m so impressed you remembered my mention of the beautiful children in their gorgeous Easter hats …

    After you mentioned the Charlie Brown music, I downloaded the classic song for my iPod – thanks!

  11. Thinking of spending Christmas 2011 in Barbados but only thing holding back is wife because she thinks kids would be disappointed without a ‘real’ Christmas tree.

    Can you please send details of Christmas tree purchase/price and availability in Barbados?


    Dave from England.

  12. I love this question, Dave! It’s amazing that you can get real Christmas trees anywhere in the world! A pine tree here is not difficult to get at Christmastime and costs about double what a tree in the U.S. costs. Your kids would definitely get a “real” Christmas in Barbados! Everyone strings up lights and decorates trees, just like you do in England. The only difference is that it’s warm outside, not cold … and that’s a difference you’ll LOVE! xx Jane

  13. Vance says:

    Actually , I a 12 th generation Barbadian always had a real Christmas Tree at Christmas , first I remember Simpson’s Supermarket Worthing and Goddards and later Big B always gave their loyal shoppers free trees until about 1974 when they started charging , we had snow in a can to spray on the trees and on the windows , Wonderful Christmas time in Graeme Hall before they built all the lower class houses out back that block the Christmas Breeze and even due on the front lawn as we were up behind TOP Rock, NOW you can’t get a tree cause the masses buy them all up , but its not American or Canadian really , the fACTS are it started in Germany and then England …… MERRY CHRISTMAS

  14. I see Christmas trees all over the island. Sometimes I think I’m back in my childhood in Colorado, with the scent of pine trees at Christmastime! You mentioned using spray can snow … I’ve just learned about Bajans using marl, a ground up white rock, as “snow.”

    Happy holidays! I hope Santa comes down your chimney … oops, he probably won’t since we don’t have fireplaces here. Oh my, how will Santa get in to leave gifts?! Anyway, Merry Barbados Christmas!


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