Guest Author - Deborah Barocas
Christmas in the Caribbean is incomparable to the ones I’ve spent in the United States. For while there is an abundance of foods, gifts, and decorations, here in America, something always seems to be lacking. I could not put a price on the excitement derived purely from the simplicity in which the Island folks celebrate this holiday. From my own experience, I will tell of the tumultuous amount of joy, emotions, and memories that still lingers from my childhood days.
As my memory serves, celebrations began from the beginning of the month of November. It was continuous play of only Christmas music, until the end of December. Traditionally, a spring cleaning of sorts was conducted in every home. Furniture was brought out into the yard, and all the kids with sand paper in hand would get to work, sanding the furniture to complete smoothness. After lacquer was applied, air drying would follow before replacing furniture into the home. And while all this hard work was being done, a transistor radio perched high on the steps of the house, blared Christmas carols, and we would follow in song. Families were generally large, so six to eight children per household could easily accomplish a lot. Kitchens were painted, and new curtains sewed and hung. Everything had to be ready before Christmas Eve and had to be it’s shiniest. Christmas trees were decorated, and lights referred to as fairy lights were placed in strategic places to illuminate our home. We were always rewarded with new pajamas and a toy. My sisters and I generally got a tea set or a doll, while my brothers got guns or plastic soldiers. I thought the best rewards were the great meals my Mom prepared. It was a smorgasbord of Christmas specialties to delight everyone's palate.
A funny memory still dogs me every Christmas. It was the way we opened the handful of nuts which were given to us on Christmas day. Everyone fought to get the hammer to crack them open. In retrospect, it was quite primitive, but like everyone else in the country, we did not own a nut cracker or even heard of one. Smashing the nuts open with a hammer created such fun for us, especially when the nuts would splatter all over the place, and my cousins, siblings, and I would grab for the fallen pieces to pop in our mouths. We’d all break into fits of giggles, and squeals of delight, fighting for the scattered pieces. Finally we’d be called for lunch which generally consisted of Stuffed Roasted Chicken, Cook-up Rice, Pepperpot, fresh baked Bread, Green Salad, Potato Salad, Roast Pork, Roast leg of Lamb, Lo-mein, Fried Rice, and Black Cake. Our beverage was either Mauby or Gingerbeer, while Sangria and Wine were served to the adults. Oh! the folly of it all.
So while every country may have their own traditions, I truly enjoy Christmas where ever I am, infused with thoughts of my childhood. These memories are the ones that can still conjure up magic, and take me, if only for a brief moment back to the Caribbean... Merry Christmas and a very Prosperous New Year!
For Christmas recipes please email me or click on the link below. Additionally, for Christmas music Caribbean style, please tune into Pepperpotradio.com through the link that I've provided below.