Christmas lights, ornaments and trees

Published: December 24, 2012
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To add to the merriment, Santa Claus is also invited. PHOTO: SARAH MUNIR/EXPRESS

To add to the merriment, Santa Claus is also invited. PHOTO: SARAH MUNIR/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

Crammed with red and green decorations on trees, malls and hotels are ready for Christmas festivities. What one does wonder, however, is where these Christmas trees come from. To answer this question, The Express Tribune ventured out to the crowded Bohri Bazar in Saddar; it turns out, most people prefer plastic trees over original ones.

“These are not original trees grown from the ground but are fake plastic ones made in China,” says shop assistant Irshad Ahmed Attari at Afzal Decorations, who has been selling these trees for the past 15 years. “We get our supply of these trees from Lighthouse around November every year but display them in December when Christmas is approaching.”

“The price range depends largely on the size of the tree being purchased,” he adds. The smallest one, hardly two feet tall, costs around Rs400 and the tallest one, which is eight feet tall, costs around Rs 3,500. He reveals that customers specifically come looking for plastic trees and that is why that is all that is available in Bohri Bazar.

Apart from being a piece of decoration in numerous homes and malls, hotels across the country also place them in their lobbies to bring about feelings of joy and merriment. “We are an international chain and since Christmas is being celebrated all over the world at the same time, we feel we should participate in the festivities too,” says Schaz Khan, the public relations manager at the Marriott Hotel. “At Marriott, loads of foreigners are spotted and in order to give them a feeling of celebration, we place the Christmas tree every year.” They have been doing so for the past 15 years.

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To add to the merriment, Santa Claus is also invited. PHOTO: SARAH MUNIR/EXPRESS

“Kids of all age groups instantly fall in love with the decorated tree,” she says, adding that it’s not only foreigners who love it but children residing in the city as well. “It’s definitely the colour and decoration which attracts them.” Taking pictures next to these trees is also a must for these kids so they can later upload them on Facebook.

The appearance of Santa Claus at these locations adds to the festivities. “In order to make children happy, the hotel makes such arrangements,” Schaz adds.

Swat

Apart from its dazzling beauty and rich cultural heritage, Swat valley has a vast array of thick pine trees growing in the forests in the upper belt. The pine wood is usually used for timber, beams, rafts and furniture.

Every year, hundreds of thick branches of these pine trees (and whole trees themselves) are sent across the country when Christmas arrives — they are added to the ornamented Christmas trees in homes and other places.

However, what’s surprising is that these trees (and branches) are not sent officially from vendors to consumers in the cities but are actually sent as presents — as a goodwill gesture. “I send 20 to 25 pine trees before December 25 to my Christian friends,” says Hazir Gul, a civil society member. “I participate in their celebrations by gifting them these Christmas trees.”

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To add to the merriment, Santa Claus is also invited. PHOTO: SARAH MUNIR/EXPRESS

Several people from the Christian community in various parts of Pakistan prefer using these pine trees from Swat as they feel the trees are more beautiful and greener than those found in other areas. “Our relatives in Rawalpindi always wait for trees from Swat because they are thicker and greener. Thus, we send them trees every year,” says Yousaf Masih, a resident of Mingora.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2012.          

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