Chani, Whispered Monologues

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…


In my city around this time of the year things start turning greener. It’s the time of the year when the trees from the central region, where the climes are cooler and they grow in abundance. It’s an integral aspect of our social calender regardless of your religion or race.  Almost every shop in all the major cities and hotels are restaurants will be decorated with a trees and streamers. It’s hard to find a place that is not decked up in the festive spirit. 


I admit that being in a  tropical country it’s hard to find the really bushy and lush trees you get in the west but we have pretty nice ones albeit a little Asian besides the best part is the smell.

From the time I was a kid this was something I and thousands like me looked forward to, when the trees come. No one puts an advertisement anywhere and its not even done by some major company. Local business folk go to the central region and bring the trees down to a popular park  and everyone in Colombo knows that a couple of weeks before Christmas the trees would be there and by god we will be there too!  Christians and other’s like me go with their families, haggle with the vendors and pick out the best trees for their homes.

I always remember wanting to buy the biggest one, and they can be quite expensive. mother would grumble ” we are not even Christians..” but in the end they would give in we’ll buy a nice big tree”.  My brother and i would have the widest grins and after we have strapped on the tree to the hood of the car we would stop by the roadside sellers and buy tinsel and other decorations to dress it up. Angels being favourites.  In days when people opt for plastic trees for convenience and economy the charm and spirit of the real thing is still hard to beat.


One thing i have learnt from some of my Christian relatives and friends is that they keep all their decorations and some of  them are very special sentimental pieces, handed down for generations. Exquisite glass globes and intricate stars and the most delicate looking cupids and angels. I too keep all my decorations neatly packed in cardboard boxes and each year i add something special to my collection.

One of the wonderful things about this festival is that it brings everyone together, regardless of their religion. I have Hindu friends you decorate the trees with little Indian ornaments that they create from paper mache in all the vibrant hues you can imagine and Muslim friends who make the most delicious sweets and distribute to everyone and there was one who decorated her whole house last year with green and white tinsel.

Another touching little tradition we have, if you grew up in Colombo, is flocking to the Hilton lobby. Because during Christmas they put out the best decorations and a giant Christmas tree. It’s a must for us to go and see. When we meet friends we would invariably say ” Did you see the Hilton tree? Is it as good as last time?”

We want to see what colour theme they have used as each year they do something special and as a treat to all those who come to see the tree Hilton puts up their traditional Ginger Bread House. This marvelous little corner houses all the sinfully delightful things you can imagine. Cakes, tarts, cookies, chocolates, marzipan treats… the selection is endless. It’s ways such a joy to see this and it makes you feel connected somehow. You remember how many years you have been coming there ( and how old you are ) and you invariably meet many people you only see around this time of the year… old acquaintances, friends and just familiar faces… who like you have come to see the tree and buy the treats. Everyone gathers there at least once, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu’s,Muslims and sits among family and friends enjoying the goodies with a nice cup of tea, under the glow of the magnificent Christmas tree.

Christmas at the Hilton Colombo.png


15 thoughts on “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree…”

  1. Lovely read! You know? I have never set up a christmas tree at home nor decorated it..While studying in convent school, its beautiful to see the nuns decorating the whole school, Santa and small toffees which sisters give…feels like long time ago..reading your memories, felt a warmth at heart…The Hilton Christmas decorations reminded me of the times I go to various places in Tokyo to see the Christmas lighting decorations…its so beautiful! I missed this year!


  2. Sigh… Christmas… although, hahhaha, the way you described the tree market in the park reminded me forcibly of the goat markets before Eid! It’s always the same, the owner asking for insane prices and my mother grumbling then waiting it out till midnight on Eid eve and then bagging a goat for a reasonable price. We don;t need to decorate the goat so that makes sense, but with a tree… it’s a major love affair… you get to dress it up and commune around it…. sigh… I love it!


  3. Christmas tree…………..I was obsessed with decorating it during my childhood but now since away from home. I like to keep a smaller one around this time. There are sooo many stories and it’s just so happy occasion. Happy festive time all of you!


  4. You are so right abt whose selling the Christmas tree and we bargain hard to get the best for our home. One thing I liked is how you described going to the Hilton to see their decorated Tree, I and my sis,cousin and brother use to go to Sheraton and just take lots of picture near their tree n the feeling was just beautiful.


    1. Undoubtedly some of the best Christmas trees are found at Sheratons around the world during the holiday season. The ones in the middle east can rival just about any of the global ones I think. It’s mandated by the management really so they usually go all out. But, then hotels are all about celebrations because of the diversity of the guests. There’s nothing quite like the festive atmosphere in a hotel during Christmas. The trees, the themes, santas and sleighs, music, and people flocking there to absorb it all and yes, take lots and lots of pictures. 🙂


  5. Chan, I love the first picture so much! Since the kids turned four I began to add more and more trees to the house when I began decorating each year. And, of course I went overboard picking out small trees and setting them up around the house. A little one for the kids’ room, one in the kitchen, one in the foyer and I even put one in my balcony. I have a giant one in my living room which is “the main tree” and I tend to go a bit mental thinking up themes for it each year. J keeps reminding me that it only means we’ll have more boxes of decorations for me to obsess over and for him to lug back into the loft. Hahahaha Not that I care.
    Great post! Write more! This is what Christmas is all about. Sharing the joy!


  6. There’s nothing more exciting than setting up a christmas tree in your home …
    In India one has to get one from the nursery … locate one that is appealing to the eyes and then bargain with the owner so that you are not ripped off a neat amount as during december the cost of the tree is increased ten times …
    After getting the tree home the right spot is argued for by the whole family and then starts the search for the carefully wrapped and packed old ornaments from the previous years … baubles , little angels , stars , snowflakes , pinecones , reindeers , santas , candy , blinking lights etc …
    Once found , decorating the tree would start … streamers are put up and new ornaments are added each year … it really is a very festive time …
    Once the tree is ready it really brings in so much of warmth , love and magic … as though Santa is just about to visit your home and bless it …

    Thanks Channi … brought back such beautiful memories …
    Merry Christmas …


  7. I love Christmas for the sheer beauty of the tree! the lights! the decorations. On my way home from work I pass an area that is ‘Christmas tree’ farms. In this season you see the families drive up to purchase their trees and tie up on top of their cars and take home. Lovely sight. The fresh trees smell so good.


  8. Christmas is one festival which I eagerly wait for – Christmas time is beautiful – the whole place get decked up beautifully – thx for the article –


  9. Oh this is such a feel good post…felt those butterflies in the stomach..which i used to feel when i was in school..the excitement,the thrill to decorate the tree…the feeling of competition that ours should be the best…the outburst of happiness..on being successful in doing so..Thank you for taking us back there… :).Precious moments..


  10. The Advent Calendars. The Holly Wreath on the Door. Egg Nog.
    Pure Green Colour of Stately Fir Tree. Needles pointing Heavenward.
    Brilliant Star. Beautiful Angel. Fairy.
    Candles. Glass Baubles. Sugar Cane Candy. Tinsel, Fairy Lights
    Crackers. Decorating the Tree.
    Red Green Gold Decking the Hall. Mistletoe..
    Red Poinsettia /Red Amaryllis/ Christmas Cactus.
    Christmas Cards. Garland of Green Foliage.
    Lights. Sleighs Snowman
    Bells Christmas Carols. Nativity Plays. Nativity Scene.
    Stocking Hung at end of the BED.
    Children singing Jingle Bells/ Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer etc
    Midnight Mass.
    Warm Mulled Wine. The smell of Cinnamon Cloves and Orange
    The Open Fire. Roasting of Chest Nuts.
    Exchange Gifts. Wrapping Paper Bows Ribbons.
    The Family Meal. With all the Trimmings.
    Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake Mince Pies with Brandy Butter Stolen Cake, Panettone
    Petit Four. Marzipan /Turkish Delights/Liquor Chocolates.
    Wine Brandy Rum Port & Lemon
    Sausage Rolls Cold Ham /Meats Salad.
    Stilton & crackers Grapes & Brie. Oat crackers.
    Games. Music. Dancing. Champagne . Lots of Chocolates all Round
    Oh I could go on & on



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