It’s Christmas time all around the world, where the temperature drops, even just a tad bit and the warmth of the people you meet and interact with increases tenfold! Somehow there is more sparkle in your environment with all the decorations but there is also a sparkle in the air.
This year may not feel like previous years for many because of the you know what that has been everywhere, but there are a few Christmas traditions that some will still be able to practice regardless of the restrictions that have been imposed.
Maybe it is because I watch a lot of movies and am somewhat influenced by many internationally, my traditions old and new for me, will not only be Jamaican based.
Now let me clear the air. I watch Hallmark year round… but when November rolls around, I get extrememly excited for the new Hallmark movies that will be released each year. I KNOWWWWW the storylines are exasperatingly similar, but guess what? I watch them ANYWAY! It is my goal, to one day visit a quaint little snowy Christmas town and live the enchantment that is promised in each and every Hallmark Christmas movie. If you want to join me in Christmas lala land, check out the checklists in my post Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movie List 2020
Curling up under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate drowned with marshmallows while watching movies is one of my most favourite things to do every Christmas!
Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt
Yes, I like Christmas trees, real and artificial and especially beautifully decorated… and I take pics with them and ask people to guess their location.
With the perpetual increase in electricity in Jamaica, the idea of decking your house or building with lights have SIGNIFICANTLY decreased. Not many people are as open to shelling out big bucks to decorate and light their places anymore. Maybe sooner than later, this will be a thing of the past… unless they become solar powered. Hmmmm, that’s an idea!
In the days of yore my mom would do at LEAST two batches of Christmas cakes and puddings per season with fruits that have been soaking ALL YEAR ROUND! For a couple of Christmases, as a child, she would volunteer my time to help her with the measuring of ingredients, mixing of batter, lining of bake tins and eventually the dreaded clean up that ensued. With bakeries, supplying cakes at prices worth much less than the overall effort put into cakes baked by artisanal bakers, the demand for these ready made cakes and puddings have increased and their home baked versions remarkably decreased.
Also, it has ALWAYS been my Christmas goal to try as many Christmas cakes as possible. These are prepared as puddings, cakes and any other variant and include many different ingredients even though the concept remains the same. So far, for this year, I’ve only had two… a fact that I am greatly disappointed about because we are now just days away from Christmas. Gotta step my game up!
Christmas related food
This includes sorrel drinks, jams, icecream and any other innovation that may surface during the Christmas season. Gingerbread cakes and cookies. Christmas spiced wines… once it surrounds the common theme of Christmas, I’m all in!
Gungo Peas (Pigeon Peas) Picking
This is a right of passage for all Jamaican children once you lived with a parent or grandparent that immersed the house in the preparation of Christmas dinner. Shelling dried or green gungo peas from the pod was a wholly fascinating or absolutely boring task depending on how you approached it. And that was just the beginning, because after shelling, it would be put to soak and you had to go through and weed the bad pea grains from the good ones!
It’s spring cleaning but at Christmas time. In my head and how I was raised, when you wake on Christmas morning, the house must be spotless. As if Santa Claus himself came and cleaned then neatly placed the gifts under the tree and left after watching his dish and cup that we left cookies and milk in for him.
Last year on Christmas eve, I was cleaning. And again on New Years eve because “I’m not carrying any garbage with me into the new year”. *side eye* Sadly, this year, I’ve only managed a generic cleaning. Laundry will be done by new year, but sheets have been changed, replaced and washed, fresh curtails have been hung. The clutter will be dealt with momentarily, but I have been soooo very busy that I have not had a decent time to sit and process all that has to be done and I am sooo very tired just thinking of it all.
My mom on the other hand, has fully prepped her room for the coming of the Messiah… and the new year. What an awesome gift idea this would be for someone who is ALWAYS busy!
The drinks of Christmas
Can there be Christmas without sorrel? or rum punch? or even eggnog? EggNog is more of an international Christmas beverage but sorrel… man oh man… we can’t do without sorrel at Christmas time. Boiling sorrel blossoms grown in your garden (or bought in the market) in a big pot of water with your spices, as fragrances waft through the house. Pimento seeds, cinnamon leaves, star anise and ginger all added to the mixture and the coup d’etat, the white rum!
This is a must have EVERY TIME!
Decorating the Christmas Tree
And lastly, the pièce de résistance. The Christmas tree…
My family stopped decorating a tree years ago, but this is a seasonal exercise I still enjoy to this day. This year I decorated a tree for a coffee shop and another for a client and there is such joy when the lights come on and the smell of fresh pine trees waft through the ear. I remember when I was younger, after decorating the tree, I would lie under it and try to see all the way to the top. Fun times!
Traditions bring a feeling of familiarity and nostalgia that is bound to warm the heart and souls especially at Christmas. Whether you celebrate them with friends, family or by yourself, they bring a smile to your face and even a tear to your eyes. So tell me! What traditions, old or new, are you embracing for this year? Drop them in the comments below!
See in in the next blog!