Santa comes to a subtropical island
Tenerife in the Canary Islands is off the coast of North Africa and with its subtropical climate is not the sort of place I would expect to see reindeer and Father Christmas but they are here. Every year at Xmas time there are Santa Claus figures climbing up walls over the island and reindeer models too some large ones too decked out with fairy lights and standing on roundabouts and in other public places.
It seems pretty weird seeing images of Santa alongside palm trees but it happens in Tenerife. Basically all the Christmas traditions you expect in the UK and other northern parts of the world find their expression in the celebrations here too.
Christmas in Tenerife has Santa Claus too
Tenerife is a subtropical island with palm trees and warm sunshine even in winter but nevertheless it also has traditional Christmas images and customs for the festive season.
Santa comes to a subtropical island
Christmas decorations and Poinsettias
All over the island Christmas decorations go up and a lot of money is spent on this. Poinsettias are a flower that has become very much linked with Christmas and they are especially grown for use in the Yuletide Festive Season.
Flower beds are filled with small Poinsettias in flower creating colourful expanses of colour. Individual plants in pots are stood in streets, in doorways and on terraces.
Glorious floral displays are created using Poinsettias and even traditional images of Christmas can be modelled using these flowers. I saw a large red bell made up from Poinsettias on display at Los Gigantes Golf Glub. It was blazing sunshine and everyone was out in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops but you were reminded that it was actually close to Christmas.
Poinsettias grow very well on the island and they are conveniently naturally in flower in December. Small Poinsettia trees and bushes are glowing with flaming red along roadsides and in gardens, parks and public flower borders. They look amazing!
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Santa Claus Tenerife-style
One difference though is that here on Tenerife most of the Santas we see are climbing up walls. There is a severe shortage of coal-fire chimneys here, or any other sort of chimneys for that matter, so instead of coming down the chimney they have to find a way to get in otherwise.
In many ways Father Christmas on Tenerife is not much different to a petty burglar looking for a way to gain entry to your property. The big difference, of course, is that Santa Claus in the Canary Islands brings you Xmas presents whereas a robber would steal your property.
You often see life-size Santas standing outside shops or in the shop entrances. In Icod de los Vinos there is a Chinese shop that sells all sorts of items from fashionable clothes to cutlery, gardening tools, hardware and musical instruments. Right in the doorway stands a splendid figure of Santa Claus and he is playing a saxophone!
Elsewhere in the apartment block in which I live there are actually no less than three Santas all climbing the outside walls in an effort to get in. Of course it would be much easier for them if they went through the main door on the ground floor like everyone else I always think!
He always arrives early too allowing weeks ahead to find his way into all the homes all over the island and wrapped up in his traditional red and white fur-lined and trimmed costume he must get very hot here! So spare a thought for Santa climbing up walls at a dangerous height and sweltering away in his winter clothing in a warm subtropical climate. It can't be easy for Father Christmas!
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A White Christmas
On Tenerife there is actually a very good chance of getting a white Christmas most winters. At least high up on Mt Teide it is.
The peak of Spain's highest mountain is often glistening in snow all down the sides of its higher reaches any time from November through to March. Sometimes the snow falls in October and it can still be there right up on the summit in May.
Fortunately down on the coast we never get any snow and it it never drops down to freezing temperatures. However, if it's real snow you want you stand a very good chance of being able to see some in Tenerife in the winter months. I have got used to expecting snow on Mt Teide at Xmas but back in the UK you never know what you are going to get!
Copyright © 2011 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.