A traditional sisal tree decorated with sea shells is the National Trust for the Cayman Islands tree for the Yuletide season.
The Christmas tree, simple and sparsely decorated with white Sea shells hanging from red ribbon designed by students from Lighthouse School, took first place in the traditional Christmas Tree design competition held at the Bodden Town Mission House on Saturday.
For their efforts, the students were awarded a Wii gift package from the National Trust for their school.
The competition, held for school-age children from private and public schools, encouraged students to think outside-the-box and be creative in designing original traditional Christmas trees.
Five schools: George Town Primary, Lighthouse, Truth for Youth, Prospect Primary and Triple C School took part in the competition, which was judged on educational value, overall appearance, use of theme, originality and use of natural materials.
Truth for Youth students choose the theme of Recycle, Reuse and Reduce and decorated their tree with colourful painted recyclable materials such as egg trays, soup cups, plastic spoons, tissue paper and magazines pages twisted into designs resembling Christmas balls. The tree was the winner of the People’s Choice Award.
Trees and decorations came about in quite an interesting assortment: some with leaves and some without, ornaments made with recyclable items and some with decorations collected from the seashore – all looked beautiful, remarked those gathered on the Mission House grounds.
Whether inspired by culture or competition, students’ trees showcased how residents made use of materials for decorations that were found in everyday life.
To the judges, the trees perfectly reflected a traditional Christmas tree mirroring Cayman’s culture long ago. Denise Bodden, National Trust historic programmes manager, said she was pleased with the way students had used their imagination to highlight a part of the Cayman culture. She said that the standard of the Christmas trees had definitely improved since last year.
“When Christmas was celebrated in Cayman decades ago, residents didn’t have shiny glass bulbs, garlands or fancy wrapping paper,” she said.
“They had painted broken glass, seashells, scraps of cloth, thatch and anything that looked pretty enough to hang on the rosemary bushes, sisal tops, weeping willow or wild coffee bean trees that were used. They salvaged things from the seashore or local forest and along with cloth scraps, leaves, seeds and shells came up with a beautiful Christmas tree.”
At the Mission House, visitors commended the students on the unique display of traditional trees, enjoyed a musical offering by Wesleyan Christian Academy and took in the seasonal lighting display at the historic home managed by the Trust. Some visitors even took time to tour the Mission House grounds and reflect on some of Cayman’s most remembered Christmas traditions.