Giving a new tradition
With the festive season just around the corner it seems the mad dash is on to secure that perfect gift. So many choices, so much advertising to help us along – just what to get? What to get?
For many this time of year can only be called stressful or a hassle, and that is a shame because traditionally the giving of gifts wasn’t the most important part of the Christmas season. It was feasting with family and friends and celebrating a religion.
History shows us that centuries ago the middle of winter was a time of celebration; the worst part of winter was over and with the slaughter of farm animals and fermented wine and beer finally ready to drink, the time had come to feast. Winter Solstice was celebrated differently in different parts of Europe, and in the early years of Christianity it was Easter that was the main holiday for Christians. By the fourth century the birth of Christ began to be celebrated around the same time as the traditional winter solstice festivals, the pagan tradition of Saturnalia among them. The actual birth date of Christ is hotly debated between scholars, but today the popularity and celebration of Christmas is high on the social calendar the world over. The Greek and Russian orthodox churches however, celebrate Christmas 13 days after the 25th (Three Kings Day or the Epiphany). , , , .
The giving of gifts off course stems from St. Nicholas, the legendary bishop who gave presents to children in his village. He was well known for his kindness and was made Bishop of Mira as a young man. Even today December 6th (and the eve before on December 5th) is celebrated widely in Europe by telling stories of his goodness and generosity, by sharing candy, chocolate letters, small gifts and riddles. Christmas’ Santa is derived from St. Nicholas, although Santa’s mode of delivery is vastly different. .
Differences aside, Christmas in the modern world is still celebrated by many people. And that brings us back to commercialism of the holiday and the pressure to find that ‘perfect’ gift , . but Southlanders are pretty creative with many families opting for the ‘4 gifts for Christmas rule’ for the younger members of the family: Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Add to that the Secret Santa at the workplace now often have a spending limit, and many adults opting for ‘no presents’ or giving, and preferring to receive, a living gift of plants for the garden. Living gifts have the added bonus of perhaps starting a new tradition, for example: A new rose each year giving by a family member, renamed to honour that family member, will bloom year after year in the garden. Or a cottage garden bed filled to the point of bursting, all gifts from family and friends. Hanging baskets, climbers, fruit trees – the list is endless. If you don’t know what to get just have a sneak peak around the existing garden, get a quick snap with the ol’ mobile phone and head to your local garden centre for advice on garden style. Or be brave and go for something completely different and unusual. The possibilities are there to be explored.
I spend much time wandering around garden centres, taking in the sights and smells (yes I smell the flowers) – all in the quest of creating my dream garden. It isn’t often I don’t have a vague idea what I wish to add to my garden but I usually walk out with something a little extra that wasn’t on my list creating a flurry of activity when I get home to find the perfect spot for my latest addition. Garden centres are a perfect place to get inspiration and dream! We are lucky in Southland to have many garden centres with staff who love nothing more than to help point you in the right direction or give you an idea and suggest a lovely plant for many years of enjoyment.
On a sunny morning I spend a lovely time wandering around Nichol’s Garden Centre in Invercargill and captured some of the beauty on display. Head on in to check out their wide range of plants and supplies, plus there is a cafe and an endless supply of garden related gifts. A perfect place for a gift that could start your new family tradition.
Nichol’s Garden Centre can be found at 200 North Road, Invercargill.
Some more garden centres in Southland:
(click on the name to be taken to their websites)
628 Tweed Street, Invercargill
849 North Road, Invercargill.
Easy Big Trees
241 North Road, Invercargill.
Te Anau-Manapouri Highway, Te Anau.
Blue Mountain Nurseries
99 Bushyhill Street, Tapanui.
Campbells Garden Centre
14 Irwell Street, Gore.
Hokonui Alpines (mail order)
Croydon Siding Road, Gore.