Merry Christmas Everyone!!
I LOVE this time of year and like so many of my Caribbean brothers and sisters this time of year is very special. We love our music, food and limes(more than a handful of people in any one space having fun).
Here in Antigua we love our Sorrel, Souse, Ham, Turkey, Wood Bread, Saltfish, Black Cake, Pudding, and Gingerbeer and singing Carols. However, if you don’t come from here but you live here you might add in or take out other things depending on what island you come from.
Some of my favourite memories go back to my Daddy and Uncle bringing home the Casaurina Fir Trees from Fort James on Christmas Eve for all of us to decorate, then there was the salt ham curing process they did with my grandmother every year leading up to Christmas. My Mum’s baking was a big part of my life – she was English so the house smelt of mince pies, shortbread and Christmas Cake – a heavy cake full of whole fruits soaked in rum, and my Dad’s Ham and baked pork with crackling (who knows what that is?). My Bajan Grandmother made boiled puddings on a coal pot on the back step of the house at Tanner Street and baked her delicious Coconut Bread. Then there was always a huge breakfast and dinner by my grandparents house on Tanner Street with what seemed like an endless spread of food all day and huge puzzles to complete over the season beginning on Christmas Day. Of course there was Sorrel and Gingerbeer in abundance and my Great Aunt loved plants so there was always Snow on The Mountain and Poinsettia around in full bloom! And nothing was more exciting than the sounds of Carollers coming through the neighbourhood and then knocking at your door!! My mind floods with so many memories from years ago and then newer ones and different traditions started when I had my own children who have Trinidadian roots in addition to everything else. Their Trini Grandmother made Pastels (a mix of cornmeal with ground meat in the middle wrapped in fig leaves and boiled) and her version of black fruit cake – she blended her rum soaked fruits before mixing them into her cakes, while their Grandfather made “Vilandalish” (don’t hold me accountable for the spelling), the original name in Portuguese is “carne de vinho e de alhos”, later called “calvinadage” in Trinidad. My children grew up with a melting pot of allllllllllllllll those traditions mixed up together in one day – a cultural culinary explosion!! And it continues to this day as they hop around from one family members house to the next on all sides!!
You see here in the Caribbean no matter where we go, where we come from or where we call home, we take our traditions with us, sometimes we adopt others into our own and because families mix up whether through religion, race, or class we all become part of what I love to call the Caribbean melting pot – we all one family!!
Tradition for my family here in Antigua is our brunch, we do breakfast that runs into lunch on Christmas Day and it’s a true reflection of all the bits and pieces that make us who we are – Eggs – boiled and scrambled, Baked Ham, Stuffed Turkey, Baked French Toast, Saltfish, Bacon, fresh Wood Bread, Mince Pies, Shortbread, Black Cake, Spiked Sorrel and Punchecuba! Normally we would have Souse (pickled pig parts) but my Dad isn’t here and he is the “Souse” King. We will also be missing Kaylee my daughter and son who are away, and quite a few other family members and friends who are very important to all of us. It’s at this time of year that you miss the most, people who you hold near and dear when they can’t be with you!
I feel however, it would be remiss of me not to remember how many of our Caribbean sisters and brothers won’t be celebrating Christmas this year as so many of them are still homeless, displaced or living in terrible conditions, some are still under curfews, surrounded by devastation and mass destruction after Irma and Maria. SO please whatever you do today, keep others in your thoughts and prayers and if you can reach out and help someone in your community then do so, more often than not a little goes a long way! Also the holidays are not always happy times for everyone, remember to check on family and friends who may need your support.
From my heart to yours here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and for those of other beliefs or no beliefs, I wish you love, light and positivity as we near the end of the year,may your holidays be full of love, peace, laughter, friends and family.
Hugs and Love from Butterfly Kisses For The Soul.