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A Caribbean Christmas

December 22, 2010
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In the tropical islands of the Caribbean, the temperature is above 75 degrees from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, which means that it is warm and pleasant during Christmas. As in many parts of the world, family, merriment, gift-giving are among the many activities that the people of the Caribbean enjoy during Christmas. The main menu of a traditional Caribbean Christmas dinner includes baked poultry, roast beef ham, boiled and steamed root vegetables, rice with peas, seasoned rice or rice pilaf, with sorrel, rum punch or mauby as the beverage. Caroling has also been a tradition. Small groups from churches or schools will walk through neighborhoods singing Christmas carols or, will drive from house to house to sing carols in neighborhoods primarily in rural areas where houses are not always found in close proximity. Two Christmas traditions that are unique to the Caribbean are the practice of Jonkanoo and having a grand market. Jonkanoo consists of a group of masked revelers who take part in a parade dancing to the beats of drums, shaking tambourines and improvised instruments. The group also include stilt walkers who appear as tall as some trees and single- story buildings. Jonkanoos perform various antics to amuse onlookers and to give candies and treats to children, especially younger children who may seem scared of any of the Jonkanoo participants. Grand market is the big outdoor market that takes place the week before Christmas up to Christmas Eve. Outdoor markets, found in the central points of regional towns, are common in the Caribbean as a place to get fresh fruits, vegetables and produce that are grown by local farmers. But at Christmas time, they also become filled with assorted items that can be given as gifts and they bustle with activity even after nightfall. It is a special treat for children to accompany parents to grand market during the Christmas season. A traditional Jonkanoo dancer “A traditional Jonkanoo dancer”
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