Maine’s lobster trap Christmas trees

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Maine - lobster box Xmas tree

a lobster box Christmas tree

We are used to seeing tall and strikingly lit Christmas trees in the run-up to Christmas Day. Travel to Rockland in the American state of Maine in the north east of the country and you will see a different tree. After Thanksgiving is over (that’s the third Thursday in November) Santa Claus arrives by lobster boat and light a lobster trap tree. It is about 30 feet tall, built from 152 red and green metal lobster traps and ornamented with buoys decorated by local families. It’s capped with a five-foot tall illuminated fiberglass lobster.

Many readers know that Maine claims to have the best lobsters in the US and even that Rockland claims to be the lobster capital of Maine but it wasn’t the first place to have a lobster trap tree. The nearby town of Gloucester in Massachusetts erected the first in 2001 so you can see the tradition doesn’t hark back very long at all. Rockland decided that it would have a similar tree and since then a rivalry has developed between the two towns and each year, the trees get a little taller.

Other places joined the “competition” with the Jonesport/Beals Island tree being built from over a thousand traps borrowed from local lobstermen. Rockland doesn’t take this encroachment on the work lightly. It says that, when Christmas is over, their traps are raffled off to local fishermen and the proceeds used to support community programs. Then they’ll point out the superior engineering that allows them to build a 30-foot tree out of only 152 traps.

Other places joined in. Cape Porpoise, near Kennebunkport, has a tree made of wooden lobster pots. Cape Neddick has a lobster crate tree, as does Trenton. Some are decked with garlands; others buoys.

Whatever the rivalry, it is the lobster that is being venerated almost as much as Santa Claus and Christmas. In Kennebunkport, Santa Claus arrives on a lobster boat to do the honours. And on top of the Rockland tree, there is a five-foot tall illuminated fibreglass lobster.

Not all places concentrate on lobsters though. At the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay There is something called Gardens Aglow. This takes place from November 18 until the last day of the year. With more than 150,000 lights strung among the 14-acre gardens, it creates the largest light display in Maine.

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