CHRISTMAS BALLS: Colourful Christmas balls at Excellent Stores, Port of Spain.


Deck the halls...

By Kimoy Leon Sing

As many people get ready to deck the halls with boughs of holly and count down the days until Christmas, the Express visited some popular variety stores in Port of Spain to find out what is the one holiday decoration people cannot seem to do without.

From the brightly coloured bows, balls, candy canes and mistletoe, Christmas decorations have come a long way from just lit candles, apples, berries, nuts and dates. According to back in the 19th century, these simple ornaments hung from Christmas trees that were pine, spruce or fir and were very common for that time period.

Manager of Excellent Stores, Port of Spain, Selina Richards said, “Wreaths or holly are very popular and the ones which are fuller are more appealing to customers.”

“It is also important to note that the number tips on a Christmas tree or wreath will determine its fullness,” she added.

She noted that the number of tips is usually indicated on the back of the tag; the higher the number the fuller the tree or wreath will be.

Over the decades, Christmas decorations have changed and with each new practice it builds upon old Christmas traditions to make Christmas celebrations even richer. While some people’s taste may lean towards elegance and simplicity others may veer to grand and over-the-top decorations.

Like the Christmas tree, the holly or wreath is another important Christmas symbol. It comes in various shapes and shades of green. However like the Christmas tree, hollies have their own history.

The states that hollies were the sacred plant of Saturn and was used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to honour its deity, Saturn. Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried them about decorating images of Saturn with it. 

For centuries, Romans continued this practice while Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus. To avoid conflict and persecution, Christians decked their homes with Saturnalia holly. As their numbers increased and their customs prevailed, holly and mistletoe lost their pagan associations and became symbols of Christmas.

What might not be common knowledge is that there are two types of hollies. There is the “she-holly” and the “he-holly”. According to both types can be distinguished by the properties of the leaves. The “she-holly” is somewhat smooth along the surface while the “he-holly” is more prickly and rougher in appearance and touch.

While some people enjoy decorating their own wreaths, you can also buy pre-decorated Christmas wreaths. They come in varying sizes starting at 24 all the way up to 48 inches.

“Christmas ornaments in purple, turquoise and pink have been very popular colours for the season; however, there are people out there that still prefer the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold,” Richards said.

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