Christmas is a time of celebration all over the Caribbean. Every Island celebrates the festive season in their own little way. From the parties, grand markets, church services to the special food and drinks prepared specifically for the season of Christmas. It truly is a great time of year which often sees many Caribbean people who live outside of their Islands make every effort to be back home for Christmas.
Sadly, the airfares to the Caribbean are absolutely ridiculous. Most people have no choice but to book up to a year in advance just to make the down payments more manageable. Aviation costs and fuel sub-charges are two of the main reasons why flights prices cost the average person an arm, a leg and a whole lot of sacrifices.
Sadly this is not set to change anytime soon, so us Islanders have no other choice but to get adjusted. For those who don’t get the chance to fly back to the Caribbean for Christmas, we do our best to bring it here to the UK. My family and I have found ways to infuse our Caribbean magic into our Christmas celebrations. I compiled a list below of just some of the things that we do.
Caribbean people are extremely house PROUD. When it comes to the place where we lay our heads we go above and beyond. My nan is this way, so is my mum and you know this has been passed onto me. The cleanliness of the house is a top priority.
In the run-up to Christmas, Aunty Lorna will subject the entire premises to a what I call operation LG. Every room is assessed for renovations and has to be thoroughly cleaned and upgraded accordingly. So far this year I have cleaned cupboards, visited Ikea, hand washed tiles and helped mum with some DIY. Every bedroom in the house must have FRESH bedding on for Christmas day.
Every year my mum puts on a fantastic spread for my brothers and I. Our Christmas day menu is carefully pieced together and finalised by the 19th of December every year. However, our Christmas dinner would not be the same if some of our favourite Caribbean dishes and drinks were not on the menu. The way we cook in my house is heavily influenced by Jamaican, Guyanese and Trinidadian recipes.
But I have to be honest and let you in on a little secret. There are no curry dishes on our Christmas menu. No Curry goat, no curry nothing. Now I know this might come as a surprise to some of my fellow Caribbean readers. I do hope that no one starts a petition for my Caribbean card to be revoked, lol. Being that we are half Guyanese we eat Curry dishes on a regular basis. So we are not interested in eating it at Christmas, sorry not sorry lol.
- Ackee and Saltfish
Jamaica’s national dish of Ackee and Saltfish is served every Christmas morning as part of our Breakfast menu. Accompanied by festivals or fried dumplings, bammy, breadfruit and plantains. Last year my mum threw in a grilled Lobster and let’s just say it went down a treat.
- Pepper Pot
Traditionally, Pepperpot is served at Chrismas time in Guyana and it is one of our national dishes. We serve PP a part of our breakfast menu. It is a stew dish, served with meats such as beef, pork and mutton. But, because most of my family do not eat pork, it is replaced with Cowfoot.
Pepperpot can be served with rice, roti or fresh bread. My mum is a perfectionist so she ensures that our Guyanese-style bread is homemade. Our breakfast menu is a mixture of both our cultures and I love that every year my mum gives us the option to enjoy both.
Other Breakfast options- Fresh baked bread and ham – (Trinidad & Tobago)
- Black Cake
I don’t know which Island this cake originated from but I so thankful for whoever created it. Black/Rum cake is a Christmas and wedding favourite that is enjoyed across many of the Caribbean Islands. Dark in colour and rich in taste the magic behind this divine creation is the diced up dried fruits which are soaked in rum and dark wine for up to a year.
If that is not enough once it is baked it must be laced up in more rum to give it that kick. I am so lucky that my mum is able to bake because we eat it around the clock. At Christmas time, my mum bakes 4 of these babies and we slice them up for our Christmas visitors.
- Homemade Jamaican Sorrel
Every year without fail my mum makes 5 litres of homemade Sorrel. If I don’t taste any Sorrel during the Christmas season, did I even have a Christmas? lol. Sorrel is one of the most popular drinks during the festive season, especially in Jamaica. It is made from the hibiscus Sabdariffa flowers, which is washed, boiled and strained for up to 6 hours and then sweetened to our preferred taste and of course laced with Rum and more Rum.
- Guyanese Ginger Beer
This drink is a personal favourite for me because I love the way my Nanny makes it. Guyanese Ginger Beer is light and refreshing much different from the commercial ginger Ones.
It has to be prepared one week before Christmas because it needs to be fermented and combined with all the right ingredients within a timely manner before serving. It can be enjoyes with plenty of ice after a full plate of Christmas dinner. The only thing missing from this combination is the hot Caribbean sun cool breeze.
Other Drink menu options: Rum, Guinness Punch & Carrot juice (Jamaica) – Ponche-a Creme (Trinidad & Tobago)
As I mentioned earlier there is nothing better than spending Christmas in the Caribbean. My Nanny is currently living her best life in Guyana as I type. Every day she messages me with pictures and updates, I love it. Sadly as I am not in the abroad this year so I just have to make the most of it back here in London. What better way to do this than by bringing the vibes of the Caribbean through our Christmas music and entertainment.
- Christmas Soca Parang
This might comes as a shocker but there is a genre of Soca music called Parang. These songs are especially for the season of Christmas, it originated in Trinidad and Tobago but has spread across the Caribbean. Paranging is the process whereby we go house to house and exchange food and drink with our neighbours from Christmas day until New years. We drink, have a lime, a laugh and be merry.
On Christmas day at home, we set up our sound system and get the Parang pumping from about 8am. We have two Caribbean neighbours who we exchange food and drink with every year. I really love this element of my Christmas and look forward to gifting others with what my family have prepared. Aside from the Soca Parang, we play Reggae music, Gospel and other traditional Christmas songs.
Here are my top 3 Christmas Soca Parang Songs
- Sugar Aloes – Black Cake
2. Brindley Benjamin – Santa Looking for a Wife
3. Baron – It’s Christmas
In most Jamaican households you will find a pack of Dominoes. Christmas is never complete without a few heated games of Dominoes amongst the family. I highly suggest playing this one after exchanging gifts and eating food, because it can get intense and somewhat emotional. I am nothing but a spectator when it comes to the game of Dominoes, this is far from my lane and I tend to stay out of it. I just love the high energy within the atmosphere and the vibes amongst the players and their supporters.
- Ludi board
Another game that my family love to play at Christmas time is the Ludi board. I dabble in this game from time to time but I am not as good as I used to be back in the day. Just like Dominoes, the Ludi board can be just intense. But you just have to keep your eyes peeled for those sly cheaters because they can be so slippery. Our Ludi board at home is 20 years old and came straight out of Kingston Jamaica.
These are just some of the things my family and I do to incorporate our Caribbean roots into our UK Christmas celebrtations. It may be a little different from the way you and your family do things but that is ok because we are all different. I love that even though I live in the UK, my family are still able to feel connected to our culture through food, music, and other family traditions passed down.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you can relate in any way let me know below. Also, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas whether it will be A Bae-less Christmas or not, please try your best to enjoy it as Christmas only comes around once a year.
(Please note, I do not own the rights to some of these images used within this post)
PS: My Last post will be out on Saturday 29th December 2018 – My 27th Birthday!!
Lots Of Love