Christmas is upon us and you can already hear the murmured laments made familiar over the past few decades: Christmas has become so commercialized. The celebration has lost all its meaning. They have taken the Christ out of Christmas. Understandably for traditionalists, the amped-up sales promotions and other inducements to incur unnecessary debt have obscured the true purpose of the annual commemoration. For others, the commercialization is optional and merely a feature of contemporary life. Yet, in the main, Christmas retains one important element; like Thanksgiving, it brings families together from places far and near to break bread together and catch up on events of the past year.
For Caribbean families anywhere in the world, Christmas celebrations are not complete without observing traditions of old; traditions that invariably hark back to childhood memories, some fond, others not so much. Invariably, these memories are stirred by certain cuisine such as fruit/black cake, pastelles, ponche-de-crème, gingerbeer and the requisite turkey and stuffing. Or what about that seasonal music whether traditional Christmas carols, parang and soca-parang; or all those other special customs peculiar to each family.
Even as Christmas jostles with Carnival for attention in many Caribbean islands around this time of year, the calls for family reunions to celebrate the former win out.
Atypical Musings take a brief break from commentary to assume the role of the Compère as we launch our inaugural series: Compère Caribbean Christmas. As Compère, a role associated in the Caribbean with story telling (or as master of ceremonies in Britain), .
We have invited writers and contributors to share recipes, favorite Christmas music from the region and memories of the annual celebrations. They will also offer tips for surviving the stress of preparing for the festivities that are part and parcel of the celebrations. Families in the UK and US will also share with us how they have sustained and improvised as they celebrate Christmas abroad.
We hope you enjoy the series: Compère Caribbean Christmas.
Merry Christmas & Season’s Greetings!