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AWRIGHT DEN: Christmas traditions

COREY WORRELL, [email protected]

AWRIGHT DEN: Christmas traditions

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CHRISTMAS is the most anticipated and celebrated season of the year for Barbadians. It’s a time when we basically eat, shop and give and for some, it’s the only time they go to church.

Christmas is celebrated or recognised in most countries around the world and each country has its own Christmas traditions. Many Barbadians attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, followed by a stroll in Queen’s Park to show off their finest outfits, take pictures, greet friends and family and listen to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band.

As a child, my mum would take my siblings and I for drives around the country to see the many homes that were decorated with Christmas lights and decorations. Barbadians still light up their homes but I have found that each year, fewer and fewer are being decorated.

We all look forward to gifts at Christmas time but there is one thing we look forward to more – well, the adults – and that is food. If there is one time of the year Barbadians are gluttonous, it is at Christmas. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the smell of food permeates the atmosphere but it’s the smell of baked ham that is consistent in almost every home.

I never understood why ham is such a big deal for Bajans at Christmas time; maybe someone can enlighten me. In our home, my mum always baked the ham late during the night of Christmas Eve. This was torturous for my siblings and I as the smell of the delicacy made us really hungry and we longed just for a slice. Unfortunately, the rule was, no ham until Christmas morning when you woke up.

Great cake, which some call black cake or rum cake, is another Bajan tradition. It is made of dried fruits, spices and alcohol. Growing up, it was the children in our home who were responsible for grinding the fruits. In my home, helping was compulsory. My mum had a saying, “If yuh don’t help, yuh don’t eat”. I have tasted many great cakes but none can compare to my mum’s. Seriously, she is so consistent with it; it is moist, full of body and rich in taste and flavour.

This week on Facebook, I had a good laugh after reading a gentleman’s experience with someone wanting to make great cake. I honestly don’t know if it is true but nonetheless, it’s worth a read.

“I minding my business by the Ham Centre this morning, up comes this nicely dressed lady. She said to me, ‘Brad (different name), me and my boyfriend celebrating three years together and I want to do something special for him this Christmas.

“I told her I thought it was a good gesture, plus it would keep the flame burning. I asked her what she [was] planning to do. She told me she wanted to bake a black cake for him but she couldn’t find the flour anywhere. I asked her if she tried all the supermarkets and she told me yes. I asked her if there is a shortage of flour. She told me it seemed so because none of them have black flour.”

Have you ever wondered what Christmas traditions take place around the world? Here are some I found on the website

In Colombia, it’s baby Jesus who delivers the presents.

It’s a tradition in Estonia to relax in the sauna on Christmas Eve.

Icelandic legend tells of a giant cat that will eat anyone who doesn’t receive new clothes at Christmas.

Spider webs are commonly used as Christmas decorations in the Ukraine.

In Caracas, Venezuela, people often rollerskate to church on Christmas morning.

In Poland, the Christmas meal can’t be started until the first star has been seen in the night sky.

A spoonful of pudding is thrown at the ceiling in Slovakia. The more pudding that sticks, the bigger the next year’s crops will be.

There are 13 “Yule Lads” in Iceland who deliver presents at Christmas.

In Catalonia, decorated logs are fed sweets through December, then beaten on Christmas Eve to “release” them.

And KFC is a popular meal in Japan on Christmas Day, with buckets of chicken being reserved months in advance.

Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email [email protected]