This week’s question:
The news is out! Many of the Christmas barrels shipped last month from Toronto have already arrived at their Caribbean destinations. Many of the remittances for the holiday season are already in the hands of family and friends ” back home” while many of us in Toronto’s Caribbean community get ready to face a white Christmas.
What do you miss most about Christmas in the Caribbean?
Angela J Carter
What I miss most about Christmas in Barbados is going to church at five o’clock on Christmas morning. The most glorious and awe-inspiring moment for me is watching dawn break over the treetops while the melodious voices of the congregation ring through the air singing beautiful hymns such as O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Joy to the World. That aura lingered with me all day. Even now when I think of those Christmas mornings, a sense of peace flows through me.
Christmas was the best time of the year for me with the food, fun and family. Who could ask for anything more? Everybody helping and sharing with everybody. Yes caring and sharing food like callaloo with crab, macaroni pie with ginger beer, sorrel, turkey with two types of stuffing black ham, – this list can go on forever. Most of all, everything was shared with love.
What I miss about Christmas in Tobago? I miss baking black/fruit cake, sweetbread and bread in an earth oven. The smell of ginger beer and sorrel, as you prepare them. Everyone helping to clean up the yard on Christmas Eve and painting the house. Going to Church in the morning, then coming home and having breakfast that consists of chocolate tea and homemade bread and then flying your kite and listening to the sweet music of parang.
The number one thing I miss is having a good pepper pot with my son. I have not done that for quite some time. I miss my friends making a big pot of black eyed cook- up rice and being outside having fun and, of course, listening to Christmas music on the radio. I could get my Black cake here but my loved ones are there.
Going with my mother to buy the new white lace fabric to take to the seamstress to make the curtains which would be hung up on Christmas Eve. The smell of the new Marley (linoleum) carpet that would be put down on Christmas Eve which made the house smell like Christmas, The original salt ham which had to be soaked for two days, boiled twice then baked with cloves, The taste of the freshly slaughtered beef and pork which would be stewed, The plaited mastiff bread to be eaten with the ham, beef and pork. The traditional folk dancing called Bel Air and Ju that took place in the countryside.
Christmas in Jamaica was one of my fondest and most unforgettable experiences as a child. The festivities included a lot of family time and gatherings with friends and church family. Church was very special on Christmas. A big Christmas lunch was prepared at my home, and special guests were invited. Our favorite Christmas recipes included Jamaican Christmas cake, sorrel drink, ginger beer, chicken, ox-tail, curry goat, rice and peas and lots of delicacies.
Our parents would also buy us special clothes for church on Christmas Sabbath and gifts were exchanged between family members. Although gifting was done, it was not the focus of Christmas. It was more about the fellowship and recognizing Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world.