The Caribbean is usually advertised as the best place to spend your Christmas Holiday because of the beautiful white sand beaches, great weather, and great foods. If you run a search on the Internet for “Christmas in the Caribbean”, most of the results will be for travel vacation deals and not what Christmas is like in the Caribbean. You read such comment as “don’t think you have to leave the season behind” or “the sun awaits you”. All these marketing slogans will actually prompt you to book a vacation. That subliminal message we all love!
Christmas Day is an annual festival in the Caribbean as well as in many parts of the world. We have the Christmas cards, the phone calls, gift giving, Christmas decorations, and plenty of food of course. A Caribbean Christmas meal is extra special. On Christmas day, Caribbean islanders will cook a lavish meal. One main dish “Baked Ham” is the one tradition I believe will never disappear. Baked or roasted ham is generally prepared with fresh ham; it is the meat portion that resembles a picnic pork shoulder. It is actually quite delicious and best because it does not contain any preservatives or curing agents.
Many Caribbean Islands have specific Christmas Traditions that are very cultural and pack with family fun activities. For example the Bahamas and Jamaica celebrate Junkanoo, which is a carnival featuring carnival bands in colorful costume, singing and dancing. Junkanoo was originally introduced to Jamaica from West Africa when the slaves were brought to the island. During this festive period scores of revelers will parade the streets dressed in bright, colorful costumes made of mesh and ribbons. Participants would dress up as various characters including wild Indians, devils, policeman, belly woman or a horsehead just to name a few. To accompany the outstanding costumes, the men would traditionally wear a mask made of white mesh.
Another example of Christmas Tradition is Christmas Market. In these Markets, vendors would sell an array of gifts and treats. These items would include toys, balloons, cakes, Christmas decorations, traditional Christmas edible treats and Christmas trees as well. In these markets, there are also plenty of festivals and events to enjoy the Christmas spirit.
Food Traditions in many of the islands may be a bit different and also with a lot of similarities. Many people in the Caribbean attend midnight mass on December 24th followed by a lavish breakfast before the exchange of gifts on Christmas day. A late lunch or what we consider to be dinner is made up of baked or roasted ham, roasted chicken or turkey, a pork dish, several side dishes, rice and peas, baked macaroni and a seafood dish. Each island has their traditional drink, which could be cremas (Haiti), sorrel (Jamaica), rum-and-eggnog concoction called “rum popo” (Belize), Ponche de crema (a kind of eggnog with added rum- Trinidad & Tobago) etc.… and rum punch would be part of the array of drinks available that day.
Dessert in many of the islands is the famous black cake of which the main ingredients is a combination of fruits that have been soaked in wine and rum for a several months. A pineapple upside-down cake is also famous in the Caribbean. The most popular cake Buche de Noel (French speaking islands mostly), or Christmas Log is an extravagant dessert that many islanders enjoy.
With midnight suppers, concerts, family get-togethers and lavish buffets it is one of the most joyous moment that many people come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Spending Christmas in the Caribbean is an experience that is full of entertainment, good food, and family bonding. Traveling to the Caribbean during Christmas time during the holidays may be challenging because of prices. If you book ahead you are sure to find the best location and spend lots of quality time with your family and friends.