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Christmastime on the tropical island Barbados looks very different to the traditional holiday images in fairytales – there’s no snow, or sleighs, or chimneys or thick woolly Christmas jumpers. Bajans still enjoy their fantastic beaches, frolicking in the surf and basking in the warm sunshine just like any other time of the year. However, Barbadians have many traditions for this time as Christmas is an important holiday for Bajans with significant cultural and religious meaning. Read on to find out how to celebrate Christmas, Bajan-style!
Enjoying great cake
Baking traditional Christmas cakes has two benefits: eating them, and having your home smell as delicious on Christmas Day as a traditional household would. Both senses are equally important for an authentic experience, and this is no different in the Caribbean where great cake is one of the most popular Christmas cakes.
Great cake, also known as black cake is packed with rum, currants, raisins and prunes and has a very strong, unique taste. For an even stronger flavour, many people will soak the fruits in rum for several days, weeks or even months before adding other ingredients and baking at Christmas. It’s a wonderful dessert to enjoy after the big Christmas feast of ham, turkey, macaroni pie, sweet potato pie, rice and peas, all washed down with a glass of sorrel.
Bajans ‘pick-down’ their houses in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas Day. It is the Bajan equivalent of spring cleaning, and this ‘picking down’ refers to an intensive cleaning of not just the interior of our homes, but the exterior and surroundings too. Don’t be surprised if while traversing the island days before Christmas day that you suddenly see everyone simultaneously power-washing their homes or cleaning their windows en masse. Inside the homes, the process is even more rigorous. Walls are scrubbed, furniture must be polished, ornaments and wedding china are thoroughly washed, cushions and mattresses are put outside to sun dry, windowpanes are polished and old curtains are replaced with new ones, after hemming and ironing them if necessary. In times past, many Bajans would even put down fresh white marl in front of their houses as it made the house look fresh and bright, and possibly also to resemble snow!
Dress to the nines and walk in the park
Another important Christmas tradition, especially for those who live in or around the capital Bridgetown, is walking through Queen’s Park after church on Christmas morning. This informal promenade is made even more special by the fact that many Bajans treat it as an event in and of itself, using the opportunity to turn up in their very best outfits. Indeed, some dapper Bajans even have their outfits made specially for it!
There are other ways to celebrate Christmas as a local would – for instance by attending Christmas Eve Midnight mass, heading to the city to buy curtains or throwing out old appliances/tired furniture and replacing them with the new. However you enjoy the holidays, it’s most important to remember that it’s meant to be a time of joy, peace and happiness.
Here at Beach Houses by The Crane, we’ve perfected the art of living the best way possible. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 246 416 6560.