The Whiffin Spit Christmas Tree – A West Coast Christmas Tradition
When I first came to Sooke to look at the house I eventually bought, I took a walk out Whiffin Spit. I knew nothing about the community that would become my home and my chosen place to start a family. I didn’t even know what Whiffin Spit was, I was just driving around exploring and found this cool seaside park with a light at the end of the path. It was just after Christmas, and as I meandered along the path, in addition to the many friendly people I saw and lots of dogs, there it was, this tree.
A lone Sitka Spruce, perched somewhat precariously on this exposed, windswept, salty spit of land. It had been decorated with all sorts of different ornaments. It was clear to me immediately that it was something special, and the eclectic array of ornamentations amused me. The salmon flashers and other bits of maritime and fishing-related items hung from its boughs and other home-made items made me think “How West Coast is this?!” I’ve enjoyed visiting the tree every year since and today went down to the spit to snap a few pictures for you.
With everything from plain old Christmas balls to driftwood, this is a real display of Island culture and I was amazed once again at the variety. There were many cute kids’ crafts on the tree, and also a number of touching tributes to lost family members, both human and canine, which is fitting as the Spit is a favourite for both to stroll.
I think my favourites are the ornaments fashioned from fishing gear, floats, and crab trap bait containers:
So, who decorates the tree every year? Well of course, it’s a public park, so anyone is welcome. But there is a group of local elves who has been taking care of the decorating and un-decorating of the tree since 1995. Read the interesting story, and learn about how you can help, here.
A bit of a bonus to my stroll down on the Spit today were the waves. They were big. I used to live very near the Spit so I know that’s not terribly uncommon in the winter, but it was a lot of fun to watch, and to photograph. The sun even poked its way through the clouds for a while and it looked spectacular. Here’s my favourite of the wave pictures. See more on Facebook.
The weather forecast isn’t great for Christmas, but I hope you’ve had a chance to stroll by the Tree in the days leading up – we’ve sure had spectacular weather for December. But if you haven’t, make sure you head down when we get a break in the weather like we had this afternoon! Below are all the pictures I took of the tree today. Merry Christmas, Sooke (and beyond)!