Since we don’t have snow here in California, our version of holiday decorating for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa is a little wink and nod to how other parts of the country celebrate. For instance, at Main Beach in Laguna there is a sculptural installation of surfboards that serve as a Menorah for Hanukkah. Instead of lighting a candle, they light each surfboard as the observances unfold. It’s a wonderful tongue-in-cheek way to represent the holiday California style.
Just as it is the rest of the year, holiday decorating is light and airy in our décor. We will change out slipcovers seasonally, or we have seasonal pillows that we swap out, but it’s not likely you’ll see the traditional red and green. Instead of pine wreaths or fir garland, we’ll lean toward olive leaf and myrtle greenery or garlands made of eucalyptus and Lamb’s Ear. If we weave in ornaments, they will more likely be white or blue to reflect the ocean and the sand we have as a constant reminder of our natural beauty.
We tend to celebrate the holidays outside—we even have the luxury of eating our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners out-of-doors. With those of us who have decks, they often become the sole focus of our holiday decorating because we want to spend our time there immersed in the beautiful weather. There are a number of residents here who have dinners on the beach because it’s so warm here year-round. The only place you’re likely to see red and green is in a beautifully arranged dessert made of raspberry sherbet shaped like a shell with mint ribbons; green and red pepper puree adorning steamed fish fresh from the ocean; or pomegranate-poached quince on tasty sugar pies.
Where else but in California would you see Christmas trees sticking out of the backs of convertibles? I’d say don’t try that in Wisconsin in the dead of winter! We live so differently year-round that the holiday celebrations as they are portrayed in much of the rest of the country don’t work here because we don’t actually have a change of seasons. Our summers just blend right into fall and then winter without much climatological difference. Having a snowman on the lush grass doesn’t translate because we have no snow.
Californians are prone to using lights to create the magic of the holidays more than anything else for holiday decorating. Warm weather and the beach are luxuries we have that we take extra advantage of when business slows down and we surround ourselves with friends and family—well, socially distanced in 2020! In a nutshell, you won’t likely see Currier & Ives snow scenes on our holiday cards and it’s too darned balmy to serve hot chocolate or mulled cider. You’ll more likely find Santa surfing than sitting beside a Christmas tree. That doesn’t mean it’s not festive—it’s just a California version of holiday fun! To follow along as we grow closer to the holidays you can see other traditions we have by reading the lively blog maintained by Visit Laguna Beach, or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
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