Honouring the winter solstice with the traditional pine Christmas tree decorated with tinsel and ribbon is an early tradition that originates from the northern hemisphere.
Almost all of us can remember growing up anticipating the joy of putting up the Christmas tree and lights. If not a Christmas tree - then we were surrounded with imagery depicting snow covered windows, hot chocolate with candy canes, and a big jolly Palagi man covered head to toe in a heavy red suit which, while providing comfort and warmth in the cold northern areas– would result with heat stroke here in Samoa.
Luckily these days in the tropics, we‘re beginning to take the best parts out of those traditions and making it uniquely Pacific starting with Samoa Rotary Club President, Louise Main, and her creative spin on the Pacific Christmas Tree.
Ms. Main combines her love for nature and her keenness to create beautiful arts and crafts to produce striking decorative pieces and recently her take on the Christmas tree where she used palm fronds has been a hit,
“When we moved back to Samoa about twenty years ago, my cousin Apu Arp and I started to do florist arrangements mainly for weddings,” she said.
“This grew into events planning and venue decorations.
“It was for a Christmas function that we started making these Christmas trees, we live in a small country and we're always looking for new and innovative ideas.
“We both love nature and have made Christmas trees out of Twigs, wood and Teuila flowers. I guess it was a natural progression that we started looking at the most useful tree in the pacific and come up with the idea for these Xmas trees.
“We have used these Christmas trees many times since then, mainly for family Christmas, gifts for friends and occasionally to sell for charity or for our children's Christmas pocket money.”
When Ms. Main advertised her Pacific Christmas trees online, she was surprised at the amount of enquiries and orders she received from the public.
“I'm still surprised at the interest that these trees still generate and yes we have enough orders these couple of weeks to give my workers something extra for Christmas,” she said.
While the Pacific Christmas tree won’t last as long as fir pine tree or the trusty artificial ones – It will last you through the most crucial part of the Christmas season and most importantly, its sustainable and environmentally friendly.
“The green leaves slowly turn brown in approximately two weeks but it is still quite attractive for months after that. You can keep the purpose built wooden frame and create your own again and again.”
There is no limit to the innovative ideas that come out of Ms Main and she encourages people to get creative and draw from our own environment to make Christmas uniquely ours.
“In the past, we have made these entirely from the coconut palms,” she said. “We used aulapalapa for frames and laua'a for bows. Samoan women are really creative so imagine what our collective Samoan Christmas creations will be like if we all draw our inspiration from nature around us?”