Okay, so it’s still pretty warm outside, and maybe my feet are sweating in my knee high boots, but I won’t let climate change put a damper on my holiday spirit!
I grew up in St. Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean, where most of the population is Roman Catholic. For us, Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year. Picture Thanksgiving, then multiply the food by five, add some soca parang music blaring out of windows, stretch it out over several weeks and you’ll have a Caribbean Christmas celebration!
Preparations start in late October. Instead of spring cleaning, St. Lucians can be found washing their walls and hiring contractors to repair roofs and paint fences in a yearly ritual of preparing their homes for visitors. Throughout the season, and especially on Christmas day, people can be found “going house to house,” a tradition similar to a pub crawl, where instead of bars people visit the homes of neighbors, friends and family. Guest are often unannounced and can stay for thirty minutes or several hours to share holiday cheer, good food and a festive drink or two. (Check out this soca Christmas song from popular artist Ricky T, for a taste of St. Lucian festivities.)
While going house to house is a uniquely Caribbean tradition, holiday baking is universal. One of my favorite holiday treats is fruit cake (a.k.a black cake). I assure you, these aren’t the dry, fluorescent bricks you may be familiar with. Caribbean fruit cake is rich, moist and decadent, filled with wine or rum soaked fruit. Moms, aunts and grandmas can be found soaking the fruit months ahead of time, in preparation for the holidays. The resulting cake is unparalleled and delicious. Just remember not to let the kids sneak a bite!
Of course, if fruit cake isn’t your style, there’s always hundreds of cookie options. Personally, I love a good old fashioned cookie exchange. In the end, any tradition where people get together to share good food and good cheer is what makes the holidays such a magical time. I hope you have a great holiday and maybe feel inspired to add some Caribbean flair to your celebrations!