While some people are hanging glittering ornaments on pine and fir trees shipped down from the north country, the trees growing here are displaying their own holiday delights.
The local guavaberries near me are just getting ripe. They are used to prepare traditional West Indian treats for Christmas celebrations – including tarts, jam, wine. Also popular rum drinks flavored with mashed up guavaberries, spices and sugar.
Carolers used to travel from house to house spreading holiday cheer and singing the Guavaberry Song: “Good morning, good morning, I’ve come for my guavaberry. Good morning, good morning, to you and all your family.”
The inkberry tree is also associated with traditional holiday celebrations because it was used locally as a Christmas tree. It is a small forest tree, drought and salt tolerant, with a straight trunk and spiny horizontal branches. Its thorns helped hold on candles and other decorations. The berries are white when ripe but can be used to make a purple ink, hence its name. The thin branches were also sometimes used as fishing poles (with the thorns stripped off).
The Christmas palm is not native to the Virgin Islands. It is originally from the Philippines, but has been planted around St. John because of its attractive red fruits. They do look a lot like Christmas ornaments, and many are fully ripe now.