What is Christmas like in the Caribbean?
Christmas traditions in the Caribbean look a little different to those in other parts of the world. In the Caribbean, the sun is shining, there’s clear blue skies and the air is cool. But Christmas is still enjoyed by many and is still a time when everyone comes together to have fun, show gratitude, share love and celebrate.
Here are just a few of the traditions that makes Christmas in the Caribbean so special.
Food & Drink
The Sorrel plant is usually in bloom just in time for the Christmas season and in Jamaica and other islands they make the famous sorrel drink. The drink is usually made from a combination of dried sorrel, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sugar, and orange peel, and it is usually tradition to add a bit of their world-famous Wray and Nephew rum or Red Label Wine to spice up this festive drink. The beverage is usually served over ice.
As another Christmas drink, people in the Caribbean love some eggnog, also with a splash of rum!
Christmas cake or ‘Black Cake’ is usually made from fruits soaked in rum and/or sherry from weeks before. It’s a wonderful sweet treat with essence and other Caribbean flavours, that is consumed by many across the Caribbean as part of their Christmas celebrations.
At Christmas time instead of the usual rice and peas, the red peas are swapped out for gungo peas as they usually ripen in December in the Caribbean. The gungo peas give the food a slightly different flavour which is enjoyed by many at this time of year.
Festival of Light
Every year in the first week of December, the festival of lights celebrations begins in St. Lucia. This festival features traditions such as the lantern competitions, where islanders create beautiful lanterns to be put on display and lit later in the evening. The festival of lights also features a Christmas show and a grand display of fireworks to make it extra special
Nine Mornings Festival
In St. Vincent & the Grenadines they celebrate their annual Nine Mornings Festival each Christmas. Every morning starting nine days before Christmas, people wake up early and take to the streets to participate in a variety of activities, from costumed dances to bicycle rides.
One of the Christmas tradition among Trinidadians is called ‘Parang’. Parang is Christmas soca music sung in English or Spanish unique to Trinidad, but also played in many other islands, and is usually heard during Christmas time. Informal singing groups go around entertaining people in communities with horns, the steel drum, pots, pans and other instrument filling the air with music.
This tradition is also popular for Grenadians where their annual Carriacou Parang Festival is held the weekend before Christmas. Free open-air concerts feature parang bands from around Grenada. After the daytime celebrations, the parang bands go house-to-house playing carols and entertaining neighbours well into the night.
In St. Lucia, bamboo bursting is a Christmas tradition where people make cannons out of large bamboo canes. This tradition usually takes place in the evening time where these loud explosions can be heard all over the island. This is usually followed by a very peaceful Christmas morning.
Christmas in Guyana used to feature masquerader’s going door to door wearing ghost-like costumes and dancing for money, which included a character known to the locals as Long-lady – nicknamed Boom Boom Sally or Mother Sally.
St. Kitts celebrate with a carnival over the Christmas holidays. It features a range of music as well as children’s dancing troupes. Both St. Kitts and Montserrat also have masquerade competitions including Moko Jumbie and there are competitions such as the Queen Show, the Calypso Monarch Competition and the Caribbean Talented Teen Competition and the Miss Montserrat show.
Feast with friends and families
As with most other cultures, Christmas in the Caribbean is best spent with your friends and family. Christmas is a day of gift giving and there is of course a wonderful feast for everyone to enjoy. In most parts of the Caribbean the ham/pork takes centre stage at the dinner table as opposed to the traditional Turkey, but most households will still enjoy both meats.
All together Christmas in the Caribbean is full of joy and Christmas festivities!
The Culture Club Shop team wish all of our customers a very happy Christmas & New Year x