Art therapy life coach, artist, photographer, designer—Gina believes that the purpose of the arts is to enrich and heal lives.
My Caribbean Christmases.....in Jamaica
I guess I was one of the luck ones to have had the opportunity to live in two Caribbean islands at a young age. As a result I was able to experience different kinds of Christmases.....Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
As a toddler I was taken to live in Jamaica by my grandmother. I lived there for over a decade, and I can still vividly remember one particular Christmas, or I should say Boxing Day, when I witnessed my first Junkanoo. Junkanoo festival typically takes place the day after Christmas leading up to New Year's Day, and I could write a lot about the Junkanoo festival, but that's a whole other hub.
Junkanoo is basically a huge street parade where everybody is dressed up in elaborate costumes that have taken months to prepare, with colorful head pieces. There is marching up and down the streets with lots of music, food and dancing. Some of the costumes can be quite costly, and I remember the first one that I saw scared me. It really wasn't scary. It was, looking back, just a large head of a horse, but when it turned to look at me (I thought) I ran under my bed. The Junkanoo festival parade passed very close to my home and I was able to see it from my bedroom window.
Jim Reeves was a favorite of my grandmother's, and the home was always filled with traditional music sung by Jim Reeves. I always though it was funny to be listening to "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" in Jamaica, but she loved him. Besides that, we also played our traditional Christmas carols in Reggae style. Yeah! That is what I really loved about Christmas....the music...the local music....Reggae Christmas.
Backing sand in Cayman
My Caribbean Christmases.....in The Cayman Islands
Like I said, I lived in two Caribbean countries. I was born in Grand Cayman, and returned there after over a decade in Jamaica. Christmas in Cayman, as we like to say, is like no other.
The people of Cayman are considered to be laid-back, but we really came alive during Christmas time, and everywhere became so vibrant and colorful.
One of the traditions that I enjoyed, although it was a lot of work, was carrying sand from the beach to our yards to make our yard a White Christmas. After all, why can't we have a white Christmas like other parts of the world? The task of carrying the sand was called "backing sand," and many of the old traditional homes still have that pretty, white, sandy yard today.
I remember my mother and aunts making brooms from rosemary that they would use to sweep the sand to make it nice and even. This was done on a regular basis. usually early in the morning I would see my Aunt Mary sweeping her yard to make the sand look so nice.
There are so many other traditions, but I want to talk about music now.
The Music Tradition
Christmas in Cayman is magical. Christmas anywhere in the Caribbean is magical.
Music and food are two very important parts of the Holiday festivities. One tradition for pre-Christmas festivities is 'marching.' This is similar to caroling, but marching involves groups of people who go door to door in their districts, singing Christmas carols as well as popular songs of the day. In addition to singing, there are members of the group who play instruments such as guitars and drums. If they become tired on a long march, they stop for a rest (and possibly a bite to eat) at one of the homes they visited.
This time of the year you will hear new music that has been written for the holidays or you will hear some oldies-but-goodies.
Some of my favorites....
I trust you enjoy this short collection of some of my favorite Caribbean Christmas songs.
1. Mary's Boy Child first recorded by Harry Belafonte back in 1956
There is no Christmas without Christ.
Would you agree that Christ has lost its SACRED spirit? I think it has become more $ACRED. How many of us even view Christmas as a religious holiday anymore? Let's think about how to keep Christ in Christmas this season.
Many of us will spend lots of money on presents for loved ones, forgetting that we're supposed to be remembering Jesus and His birth. For me, it still is a religious holiday. Jesus is the true reason why we celebrate Christmas.
2. Put Jesus in your Christmas
3. It's Christmas again.
4. Christmas in my land
5. Soca Santa
6. Calypso Noel
How will Santa get here?
It's a long way from the North Pole, but every year Santa makes his way to the Caribbean, much to the delight of those also beating the winter winds at home. Who doesn't prefer an alabaster sandy beach to a white blanket of snow? It is always a surprise where and how Santa brings his Christmas cheer to the naughty and the nice and everyone else celebrating the holidays under the sun.
He could be
- motor boating
- bike riding
- jet skiing
7. How will Santa get here?
8. Santa say
9. It's Christmas.
10. Trini Christmas is the best.
11. Santa looking for a wife.
12. Christmas feeling.
13. Christmas Soca Party
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Bonus: Christmas in the Caribbean by Jimmy Buffet
Why Santa is so red...
When I was growing up I heard this song so frequently at Christmas. It is still as funny to me today as the first time that I heard it. It is the Caribbean's explanation for Santa being so red.
Santa got a sunburn
© 2016 Gina Welds
Gina Welds (author) from Tampa, Florida on December 14, 2016:
Hi Shauna. Yes, the Junkanoo festival is a little scary. I should write a hub on its very colorful and varied history. The costumes, to the onlooker or outsider, may seem that way but there is a story behind each one.
Glad you enjoyed Santa got a sunburn. I can never get through a Christmas without that song. (smile)
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 14, 2016:
Gina, thanks for sharing what it's like to experience Christmas in the Caribbean. I think the Junkanoo Festival would have scared me as a little kid. Some of the costumes are scary and the movements seem to be random and willy-nilly.
I love reggae music. Santa's Got a Sunburn is a cute jolly ole song!