The Caribbean Christmas season has been built on traditions that were founded centuries ago. Although throughout the time of British slavery on the island the fanfare of Christmas was not led by the enslaved but by their imperial masters, the time was still one of some, though limited celebration. The gaiety and pure sweetness of the atmosphere during this time is phenomenal, as even the weather cooperates to bring an unexplainable feel to the season. The ingredients of winds that are strong and balmy, light rains that sometimes interrupt the brilliant sunshine and bring cooler days and
nights, all blend to create this wonderful feeling of Christmas!
Bajan family and friends look forward to the festivities! Gatherings are typified by traditional food, fun, lots of laughter and a general good time! This is the time people wait all year for … a simply joyous occasion!
Preparing The Old Time Christmas Way
Old time Christmases in Barbados were not too far removed from Christmas today, the customs have been pretty well kept over time and the scents and vibes retained. Traditionally, great attention is paid to preparing homes for the holidays, as Bajans spend time sprucing up their homes from months before. They paint, varnish, purchase new curtains, cushion covers are changed, new furniture
might be bought, fresh, new table-cloths will adorn the tables, and cutlery and glassware that never see the light of day any other time of the year will make an appearance. In bygone days, and before the advent of widespread electricity, oil lamps were cleaned, and their chimneys shined spotless with newspaper sheets.
Don’t forget the additions that are made to the wardrobe, as
preparations are set in place to attend church on Christmas morning and families are bedecked in their finest apparel, to meet the dawn of Christmas day. New dresses, suits, neck ties, shoes, stockings, socks, belts, and hats are on the lists of things to get.
The foods prepared still harken back to ancestral customs. Ham is a big number one part of the Christmas menu, also served is turkey, stuffed baked chicken with gravy and beef stew, green peas and rice, doved peas, jug-jug, sorrel, egg nog, accompanied by the traditional pies, cole slaw, vegetables, and salads. Absolutely sumptuous! Soft, fizzy drinks, port wine, sherry, rum, and other liquor are also the order of the day for anyone who passes by. These days the menu items can vary in individual homes, as family members living in other parts of the world may add a twist of different cultural flavours and items to the Christmas meal, introducing an international vibe!
Other Folk Ways
In days of yore, folktales relating to Christmas tell of the children bringing marl from the quarries or sand from the beach, to be laid down around the houses, a tropical representation of a white Christmas. Today, that is not typically done anymore. Additionally, back then the Christmas trees used were both of the natural and artificial varieties, with the artificial trees mostly being used. They
were kept and reused from year to year and those who could not buy a tree, would be creative and fashion one from some local trees like the cherry, bringing the same effect of Christmas into their homes. The ornaments on the trees were mostly homemade but over time many were store-bought. Christmas cheer was also spread from house to house as the men playing instruments and singing, known
as the ‘scrubbers,’ would be rewarded with some of the Christmas goodies. This in the currency of ham, cake, sweetbread, some kind of grog and the like. There was also more of an overall community spirit that existed back then, much of which is unfortunately lost today.
All Bajan Traditions Make Christmas Special
Traditions – lingering ones, forgotten ones, or newly minted ones, all create the allure of a beautiful Christmas in this tropical Caribbean paradise.
Have A Merry Christmas!