It’s Going to be a Red Christmas on Tenerife

Fri, December 16th, 2011 - By Andrea Montgomery

Pulling into the car park of La Villa shopping centre in La Orotava the other day, my ears were assaulted by the Christmas soundtrack which accompanies shoppers and is beamed into the car park for the benefit of those trying to find a parking space.
Estoy soñando con una Navidad blanca,” crooned the not-quite-as-smooth-as-Bing voice.

For most holidaymakers who are hoping to escape the snow, Bing’s dream is unlikely ever to come true on Tenerife, unless you count the peak of Mount Teide which may oblige with snow over the festive season and attract Tinerfeños in their droves to revel in the white stuff. Just about everywhere else, this year is going to be the same colour on Tenerife it always is, red, as the entire island bursts into poinsettia bloom.

If you were on Tenerife last weekend, you may have seen large numbers of people carrying poinsettias wrapped in decorative paper and festooned with ribbons, that’s because December 12th was Poinsettia Day and it’s traditional to give one of the red beauties as a present.

A native of Mexico, in its ‘wild’ state poinsettia (euphorbia pulcherrima) grows up to a leggy ten feet tall on Tenerife with glorious heads of red bracts surrounding the tiny yellow flowers. In Britain, I tried to keep my poinsettia alive throughout the year (cheap? me?) but although it was healthy and full of leaves, the bracts never changed colour and I had to give in and buy new ones. But on Tenerife, each year the blooms are cut right back after flowering and they just keep coming back, every year as scarlet as the last.

If you’re visiting the north of the island, you’ll find poinsettias growing wild by the side of the road that links Puerto de la Cruz to Garachico and Buenavista, and in the towns of Icod de los Vinos, Santa Ursula, La Laguna, La Orotava and all along the Valle de Guerra.

Wherever you are on the island, you won’t be able to miss this symbol of Christmas as thousands are used to under plant trees in the avenidas and plazas, to augment flower arrangements in hotel lobbies and gardens and to add that traditional touch to avant garde decorations in commercial centres like the Plaza del Duque.

Florists are making their annual killing as every household picks up its poinsettias to decorate the Christmas table or to welcome guests at the front door. Super and hypermarkets are brimming with fiery bracts as aisles fall prey to the annual over ordering of poinsettias. Pop one in your basket and bring a dash of festive scarlet to your holiday apartment or hotel room.

Posted : Friday, December 16th, 2011 at 10:05 am
Category : about tenerife
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