By Lennox Borel
CHRISTMAS…”It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, sung by Andy Williams. “Christmas is yours. Christmas is mine”, sung by Lord Relator.
Indeed the lyrics of the bards above give a true insight into the meaning of Christmas. In this brief personal memoir, I will reference various Christmas traditions and customs in the Caribbean.
A defining characteristic of Christmas is music. Christmas comes in all genres and tempos, carols, classics, calypsos, parang and soca parang. The airwaves echo with all this music, whether it is in the far north where I am dreaming of a white Christmas or in Trinidad and Tobago where I want a piece of pork.
Christmas is also about food. The food is absolutely scrumptious. There are the traditional domestic drinks such as sorrel, ginger beer, mauby, ponche de crème and rum punch. The rich black cake made with a variety of dried fruits and rum, pastelles, ham with cloves, roasted pork, baked turkey, stewed pigeon peas, mayonnaise potato salad, wow just writing this makes me hungry.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time for family and friends exchanging gifts and greetings, decorating trees, attending church, singing carols, sharing meals and of course Santa Claus.
Personally as a child I never believed in Santa Claus. In Trinidad and Tobago, we had no chimneys and I never believed that a fat, jolly man in a red suit could enter the house through the
keyhole. But nowadays the fantasy endures and still thrills many children. Children delight in receiving toys and new clothes. Adults exchange gifts. Some even re-gift the gifts that they do not like, that is, giving a gift you receive to someone else. Also friends go from house to house with musical instruments singing and playing parang music, imbibing and partaking of the sumptuous fare provided by the host. There are also office parties where workers celebrate the season. The whole country is resplendent with decorations and lights.
What is the meaning of Christmas? It has come to be celebrated as an international holiday; but really it is a religious, Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that it has been bastardized in some circles by conspicuous commercialization and some attempts at neutralizing its significance in the name of diversity and inclusion, the real purpose is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ revered by Christians as God and the founder of Christianity.
Greetings like Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas detract from the holy significance. Jesus’ name was not “X”. As the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” We will never refer to Hanukah, Ramadan, Divali, or Kwanzaa as Happy Holidays. If every ethnic, religious or cultural festival was referred to a happy holiday, we would not know anything about religious, ethnic and religious diversity. All would be subsumed under the amorphous umbrella of a happy holiday. I believe it is important for all of us to recognize one another’s differences and concelebrate those differences.
Anyway enough of my rant. A Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. Have a holly jolly Christmas with family and friends.