Caribbean Christmas Traditions!
By: Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
Christmas in the beautiful Caribbean is a wonderfully magical time, and we'd like to share some delightful Christmas traditions you might encounter when you’re lucky enough to visit during the holidays. Reflecting the culture of a wide variety of various groups, these traditions bring joy and celebration to everyone in the wonderful Caribbean. We've been to "the islands" 2 years in a row during the Christmas season and it's wonderful!
At Christmas, the islands really tend to kick it up a notch. In Jamaica, Christmas traditions include non-stop festive celebrations with friends and family. The beverage of choice for the season is sorrel, which is made with dried sorrel, spices, orange peel and rum.
The music of the season reflects local culture, so it's not surprising that reggae Christmas carols add a Jamaican twist to old favorites. In Puerto Rico, you'll hear traditional American carols, "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano and the traditional posada song. In Trinidad, the Venezuelan parang adds a lively beat as neighbors serenade from house to house at fun holiday gatherings. For those living outside the cities in the Dominican Republic, groups of singers stroll through the neighborhood singing traditional Dominican folk songs about Christmas.
One of our favorite Christmas traditions is Junkanoo, a staple of the Bahamas and Jamaica. This festival features costumed figures with exotic masks who dance to the beat of drums. The street parade is a high energy revel filled with extravagant characters, vibrant colors and an infectious spirit of celebration.
Food (and rum) also plays a starring role at every Christmas celebration in the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, a large spit-roasted suckling pig is the star of a feast capped off with glasses of Puerto Rican eggnog. In Jamaica, pork is on the menu, where a slow-cooked ham is seasoned with molasses or rum and is accompanied by yams, rice and peas. For dessert, the Christmas pudding, rich with rum-soaked dried fruit, is a must. Other parts of the Caribbean insist on pastelles, labor-intensive steamed cornmeal pies with super sweet or savory fillings.
No matter where you are blessed to spend Christmas at in the Caribbean, you'll be treated to the images of Santa, messages of joy and a blending of many old and new Christmas traditions. Santa may not have a fireplace in the tropics, but the spirit of the season is one of peace, love and goodwill to all. Merry Christmas!
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