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Showcasing style through the Christmas tree

By STEPHANIE ZUBIRI, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 16, 2022 5:00 am

There is nothing more emblematic of the holiday season than the Christmas tree.

Originating in Western Germany from two specific traditions, the Tannenbaum is an amalgamation of the “paradise tree” and the Christmas Pyramid—the former, a fir tree decorated with apples to symbolize Adam and Eve’s Tree of Eden. Thin wafers, representing the Eucharist host, were hung on the tree to symbolize salvation. Eventually, these wafers were replaced with decorated cookies. Candles were also added, as their light conveyed hope in dark and trying times.

The latter, the Christmas Pyramid, was a triangular wooden construction adorned with evergreen leaves, figurines, candles, and topped with a star. Today, the Christmas tree is not only the most iconic décor of the season but is often also a vessel through which we can showcase our personalities, build family traditions, and create long-lasting memories.

Here are some personalities who share their own traditions and festive styles this season.

Aivee Teo
Founder of The Aivee Clinic

“Growing up, it was our tradition to get together with the family. We would attend and hear masses during the Simbang Gabi. We would buy our favorite bibingka and puto bumbong afterwards. On Christmas Eve, we would have a family gathering where food is a must. Of course, so we usually have our Noche Buena with our mom’s home-cooked dishes. On Christmas mornings, the family would do gift-giving for the kids of Las Piñas, then have family lunch before we exchange gifts with each other. 

Ken-Z Teo (beside Dr. Aivee), Kenzo Teo (beside Dr. Z), and Keli Teo with giant poodles Cairo and Paris and other fur babies Skye, Sydney, and Tokyo.

Now that I am married with kids, we still celebrate Christmas Eve with my side of the family. My siblings and I, together with our own families, would have the traditional Noche Buena and exchange gifts at my mom’s house in Las Piñas before we go home. On Christmas mornings, Dr. Z and I, together with the kids, open our gifts to each other. What we have this year is a Classic Silver and Blue Christmas theme. What is so special with our Christmas tree theme is we put our photos, because we wanted it to be more personalized. I still like the traditional ones, but now it is more of silver and blue, and we actually switch up our themes each year."

"I like to change the decorations every year because I look forward to having a new Christmas theme. Last year, I remember, we had a fresh Christmas tree; actually, we had two of them. It was so fragrant and nice. It brings a nice Christmas feel. But this year, I want it to have a more elegant and sophisticated Christmas look, because my kids are growing up and I want the tree to complement our new home. My favorite ornaments are the ones that contain our family photos. It makes it very special and unique. The kids actually love looking at those. The ornaments were actually a gift given to us last year. I am happy that we were able to put it up on our new Christmas tree. There’s nothing more special than having the family around this Christmas. Actually, there’s no better gift than being around your family and celebrating the holidays with them. For me, that’s the best Christmas gift I will ever receive, the love of family and the happiness it brings.”

Dong Ronquillo
CEO & president of Evolve Holdings, Inc.
Editor-in-chief of Mega Man and Mega Active

Dong Ronquillo

“We are a very traditional family. We put up the Christmas tree right after Halloween and dress up the house from the inside and outside. We would have our usual Noche Buena at a hotel and gift-giving the day after with all family members. It’s the first time this year that we won’t be in town for Christmas. Personally, I’ve always wanted a Christmas tree that’s unique, so I’ve decided to get a new, snowy Christmas tree. I believe it should reflect one’s personality. I wanted it chic, simple but classy. The theme is generally crystals, snow-white balls, gold, and with metallic blue as an accent."

"To further personalize, my friend Pie Alvarez gave me Star Wars trinkets since I collect different types of toys and Star Wars memorabilia. Next year I plan to put more robots. I try to change it up a bit by adding more ornaments to give it a different look. I get tired of the same things easily. I’m the type that won’t stop until I’m satisfied with how it looks. It’s a continuous process. I’m very grateful for everything that has happened this year, the good and the bad. I’m lucky that 2022 was really kind to me; I think it’s one of the best years. I would like to say that I couldn’t ask for more, but I will always wish for good health for my mom, the continued success of my companies, and other endeavors. And lastly, to find love… at the risk of sounding clichéd, I would also wish that the war in Ukraine will soon end.”

Liz Uy
Fashion stylist

“As a family, we all do it together: play Christmas music, decorate, and light the tree. This year we have a Polar Bear Christmas as a theme. Depending on my mood that season I’ll either be more traditional or change things up. For this year, though, I got all my decors from the storage and put together what works. It’s a mix of glam and kid-friendly at the same time while practicing sustainability. What’s cute is that my boys Xavi, 5, and Mati, 1 year and 10 months, would put their toys in our tree and leave it there sometimes—such a cute and fun surprise. As for the best gift I could get this year? Good health, just for our family to be healthy and able to celebrate the holidays together.”

Christmas tree is not only the most iconic décor of the season but is often also a vessel through which we can showcase our personalities, build family traditions, and create long-lasting memories.

Liz Uy with sons Xavi and Mati

Kelly Misa-Fernandez
Model and content creator

“Growing up, my family always had our Christmas tree, stockings and decor up by mid-November. It was always festive in our home during this time and because of that, I’ve always loved this season. I remember writing letters to Santa, and I would ask my mom to send them via mail. Most of the time I got what I wanted on my Christmas wish list, thanks to this practice.

Kelly Misa-Fernandez and Tristan

“Our Christmas Tree is very traditional, very much like how our Christmas tree looked when I was growing up. We didn’t really have a theme back then, but would use the same ornaments each year. I guess I wanted to recreate that tree from my childhood this year. I am a little bit sad we didn’t keep any ornaments from my childhood Christmas tree—I would’ve loved to use them for our tree so Tristan can see them. I am sentimental and like to keep things as long as I can. My plan is to slowly add ornaments through the years to make the Christmas tree more special. I have a Christmas star made by Tristan when he was in kindergarten. I love displaying it on our tree each year because it is so special to me and my husband. As to the greatest gift I could receive, I can’t say I want anything material this year. In previous years I would wish for something big and grand, but lately, I am perfectly happy just being with my family and spending special moments with them. So if I were to ask for something, it would be the gift of travel with my family!”

Rima Ostwani Najjar
Luxury retail specialist

Rima Otswani Najjar with husband, Georges, and kids Adriana Carolina and Matteo George

“As a little girl, I always looked forward to decorating the Christmas tree with my whole family, and now that I have my own, I find so much joy in doing the same with my kids. It just makes the Christmas tree so much more special. I'm more of a traditionalist, although this year I opted for a snowy Christmas tree for a change with a classic Champagne and Silver theme. My greatest gift this Christmas is my family being complete. Nothing makes me happier than celebrating all together this Christmas.”