By Kielon Hilaire. Ask the average celebrator what is the meaning of Christmas and you may have a hard time getting an answer that is more expansive than, “It’s the season for giving and sharing,” or, “It’s that time of year when people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
Children may indeed be the ones who enjoy Christmas more, especially since adults usually do most, if not all, of the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and working to ensure that gift-giving is of high quality. Even though the season has become very commercialised people in Trinidad know exactly what it means to have a Trini Christmas. I managed to ask a few people what makes their Christmas feel so special and the following responses were some of the most heartfelt:
Trini Christmas is fruit cake, Parang music, ham, sorrel, family…
Mahendra Buchoon: “To me Christmas is about family. Every year I look forward to spending this exciting, festive season with my family at home. On the night of Christmas Eve we stay awake most of the night, watching movies and listening to some traditional Christmas music, while a member of my family bakes scrumptious sponge cake, fruit cake, sweet bread – and of course, I must have that mouth-watering ham! Speaking about ham, it’s tradition that we all sit at the dining table on Christmas morning to have ham and bread for breakfast, while we make jokes and have fun with each other. But overall, the scent of fresh paint, the sweet sounds of Parang music and Christmas carols truly make my Christmas.”
Nikauleene Andrews: “For Christmas I enjoy the company of my family. We visit each other and our loved ones and recognise the birth of Christ and symbolic gift giving. What makes it most enjoyable is when we can all come together, eat, drink, have a good laugh and bond. Trini Christmas is really the best because aside from the family gatherings, the food is unique and delicious. Each year I look forward to black cake, the classic ponche-de-crème, ginger beer, pastelles, turkey, ham and my all time favourite – sorrel. Another thing that helps create that special atmosphere for me for Christmas is Parang music. It just makes everything come to life. I love my country even more for the way we celebrate this holiday.”
Emmerson Superville: “Christmas in Trinidad is one of the greatest times of the year. Trinis really try their best to make others feel merry and it goes far beyond just receiving presents for me. I see Christmas time as a time for family and loved ones to come together and celebrate all the past achievements and great memories that were created during the year and what to look forward to as the new year approaches. I just love the spirit that the holiday brings and the food — my goodness — I will need a whole day just to talk about the pastelle, the ham, the homemade bread and all the other types of food to eat. Christmas makes me feel like a child again and I love that feeling every year. Parang! Parang!”
Crystal Phillip: “I believe that Christmas is about love, family, caring and tradition. These things just seem to make up the entire festivity of the season. Once I have those things I then look forward to all the good food. As a professional caterer, food is a big part of it for me because the possibilities for whipping up dishes at that time of year are endless. But once I can make my family and customers feel the Christmas Spirit then I’m always good and merry. A perfect Christmas for me would be one where I go to church then come home to spend time with my family while eating a good ham sandwich, then later on celebrate with Parang groups. Oh, and I must, must, must, light my highly decorated Christmas tree. My Trini Christmas just doesn’t feel the same without it.”
December 2015 – Issue 19 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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