By Janet Howard, CAW Exclusive
When most people think about the Christmas season, they picture snow, cold, and decked-out evergreens. That is the standard image of the holidays, but for those who grew up in the Caribbean or celebrate their Caribbean heritage, the picture looks much different.
In place of snow, there is sand, with white beaches and bikini weather on Christmas Day. Instead of evergreens dressed up for the holiday, you can admire swaying palm trees, with and without holiday lights. It is those differences that make Christmas in the Caribbean so special, but there are many similarities as well.
When you live in the Caribbean or celebrate the amazing heritage of the islands, you still gather with family and friends for the holidays. You still exchange presents, and the kids still wait anxiously for Santa to arrive. He may be dressed for the tropics, but the jolly old elf will still land on the roof and climb down the chimney.
For those with Caribbean heritage, Christmas is truly the best time of year, and the differences in the ways it is celebrated just make the holiday season that much more special. Whether you hail from the Caribbean or just want to support your friends who do, consider incorporating these fun, island-inspired activities into your Christmas and holiday celebrations.
Carols by Candlelight
Signing Christmas carols has been a time-honored tradition since the early days of the celebration, but there is something extra special when you add a touch of candlelight. Caroling after dark is a popular pastime throughout the Caribbean, and it’s a great addition to any existing family celebration.
Just think about how much you and your loved ones will love heading out in the darkness, armed with candles to light the way and perhaps a thermos of cocoa or two. You may even inspire others along the way, and before you know it, the entire neighborhood will be singing a happy and festive tune.
A Truly Royal Feast
If you think Americans gorge themselves at Christmas, you clearly have never spent time in Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago or other parts of the Caribbean. As the holiday season approaches, Caribbean residents everywhere start gathering up the makings of a truly monumental feast, and they spend all day Christmas indulging in tastes old and new.
Some of these holiday indulgences will be familiar to any American, including roast ham or turkey and delicious pies. Others are more exotic, with unusual tastes like oxtail, curry goat, jerk pork, oil down and the ever-popular gungo peas. And the drinks. Oh my! Rum punch, ponche de créme and more! If you want to have a Caribbean Christmas this year, you might want to skip the chain grocery store and head off to a gourmet market or shops selling Caribbean products instead.
In the crush of commercialism and endless shopping, it’s easy to forget about the true meaning of the Christmas season, but Caribbean celebrants have not forgotten. They still love to shop in the islands, and they certainly enjoy exchanging presents with those they love, but they also understand that attending church is an integral part of the celebration. There you have it: Christmas in the Caribbean, a tradition of caring, giving, devotion, and feasting. Whether you are celebrating Christmas in the islands or far away, you can indulge in these time-honored celebrations, even if there’s not a single snowflake in sight. It truly is the wonderful time of the year!