The trees from the Mediterranean city of Antalya are being exported to all parts of the world for the upcoming Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations, with producers expecting exports to exceed $10 million this year.
Produced and exported by ornamental plant companies since the 1990s, the wreaths are made of completely natural forest waste products such as pine scraps, pine cones, juniper and cypress branches, sandalwood and myrtle fruit.
Christmas wreaths used by Christians for different areas such as doors, cemeteries and dining tables are made by housewives in Antalya, starting in August until the first week of December in accordance with the orders of exporters.
Şerife Altındal, a company partner engaged in wreath exports in Antalya, said they export wreaths to more than 20 countries including the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Japan, Canada and China.
Indicating that the company produces about 2,000 wreaths daily, Altındal said wreaths are sent by refrigerated trucks or planes, adding about 200,000 Christmas wreaths are exported by the company, while a major part of the operation is conducted in the final months of the year.
Altındal noted that the wreaths made in Antalya are preferred due to their quality production. "The flower also has a fashion, and we follow that fashion closely. This year's fashion is lilac colors. So, we tried to use lilac colors on the wreaths. Our work is hard, but it is quite enjoyable," she said, stressing that they expect over $10 million in wreath exports this year, including other manufacturers. She also recalled that they achieved an export income close to this figure last year.
As in the workshops of the flower companies, women are involved in wreath production in the villages, as well as Antalya's Zeytinköy region where people with low education and income level reside.
Companies distribute the wreath materials to the houses from the early hours of the morning. Women make the wreaths according to the models determined by the company. One worker makes an average of 80-100 pieces per day, earning TL 2 ($0.38) per wreath.
Kemal Genbeş, Yesildere's official neighborhood representative in the Zeytinköy district, said that this region, which has lagged behind in terms of education and living standards, despite the fact that it is located right in the center of Antalya, had maintained a bad reputation for years with drug addiction and drug trafficking.
Genbeş stated that Antalya Governor's Office, Metropolitan Municipality, Muratpaşa Municipality and the police department made great efforts to improve Zeytinköy's bad image.
Stating that Zeytinköy region used to be mentioned under different circumstances until 3-5 years ago, he said with the efforts of the governor's office and municipalities, they brought the flower production companies here and strived to erase the bad image of the region and provide employment to local people. He said approximately 300 households make wreaths in the Doğuyaka, Gebizli and Kızılarık neighborhoods.
"In this region people from the age of 10 to 80-year-old aunts produce wreaths. Children come from school and help their parents. They work as a family. The materials are distributed in the morning under our surveillance and the finished wreaths are delivered to the companies in the evening," Genbeş continued. "Around 10,000 wreaths are produced daily in our region. This is done in one of almost every three houses. The neighborhood is also very happy to get daily wages. The wreath production begins in August and lasts until 10 days before Christmas."
Zeynep Çarıklıoğlu, a wreath maker in Zeytinköy, explained that she starts working early in the morning. "We produce 100-150 wreaths per day according to the material we get, making a good contribution to our household. We work as a family. Men go to work, those who do not help us. Our neighbors are making them as well. We have been doing this for about 10 years. They are used as Christmas wreaths in other countries, and both parties benefit from this," Çarıklıoğlu said.
Hüseyin Çarıklıoğlu stated that he is trying to help his wife by separating the tree branches. "We all have separate duties. First, we tie the bouquets and then tie them on the wreath. We are pleased with our work and earnings," he added.
Hülya Sel, on the other hand, said she is working with her daughter-in-law and making more than 100 wreaths per day. "It is tiring but enjoyable. I do not know where these wreaths are used and how much they are worth, but we are happy with our income. We make TL 2 per piece," Sel noted.