Celebrating Christmas in the Caribbean:The Lesser Antilles Region

Part 2 of 3: The Lesser Antilles Region (Leeward Islands)

Here, the focus is on Christmas in the Caribbean with specific reference to the Lesser Antilles, an archipelago of islands spanning half the eastern side of the Caribbean Sea. Let’s see how Christmas is celebrated in these islands.

Montserrat: Montserrat's culture is a mix of Irish and African traditions, with the latter taking precedent during the annual celebration known as Festival, which runs from mid-December to early January. In Montserrat, food is a huge part of Christmas celebrations. The traditional menu includes roast pig, goat water (stewed goat meat), goat meat cooked on a wood fire and potato pudding.

                                   Image Credit: http://gocaribbean.about.com

A number of celebrations converge around Christmas time. Apart from the house-to-house carolling, there are masquerade competitions and a Miss Montserrat show. Highlights of the island's annual carnival celebration also includes a Soca Monarch competition, the "Night of Pan" party, the crowning of a pageant queen, calypso contest, and a street party and parade on Jan. 1.

Antigua: In Antigua, at Christmas time, boats from all over the world are seen at the English Harbour. Other traditions in Antigua is to eat pork on Christmas Day – baked or stewed or corned. On the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, Pepperpot is a big favourite. On Christmas Eve, everybody seems to be on Market Street doing Christmas shopping up to the last minute.

                                              Image Credit: http://www.allatsea.net

Similar to the Cayman Islands, one common practice was to place the White Christmas images on their Christmas cards. Antiguans even went a stage further. In the past, people would fetch white sand from the beaches and cover their yards with it at Christmastime in order to simulate snow. The practice is much less common now.

St. Kitts and Nevis: In St. Kitts, carnival occurs over the Christmas holidays – one huge party with music and dancing in the streets.  It features calypso, steel bands, the big drum and fife corps, masquerade and children’s dancing troupes, the Bull, Mocko Jumbies, clowns and string bands. The Kittsian carnival celebrates local folklore and traditions through song, dance, drama and poetry, and like other Caribbean carnivals there are street parties, performances, and musical competitions. Festive foods include black pudding, goat water, conchs, Johnny cakes, and roti. There are also competitions such as the Queen Show, the Calypso Monarch Competition and the Caribbean Talented Teen Competition. There is also a traditional J'ouvert party that runs through to New Year's Day.
Guadeloupe: In Guadeloupe, the atmosphere is festive from the end of November to Christmas Eve. The people gather around town to sing Christmas songs to the rhythms of the biguine and the mazurka.  After Midnight Mass, the people of the island will celebrate the birth of Christ.  According to tradition, the Christmas meal is a family affair. The main course for the meal is pork stewed or sautéed with pigeon peas and yams. On Christmas day the Children enjoy the toys left by "Santa" in their shoes. 
By Norvan Martin
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