Merry Christmas!!!

Hello everyone, Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year. Today is Christmas!!!....  the family and I had breakfast then as is tradition we moved into the living room and the Christmas gifts are distributed and everyone opens up their presents. My kids are all in their 20s but I still insist on gift giving, so my husband set up a family chat on Whatsapp and we all put our Christmas list there. That avoids anyone getting gifts they hate or will never use. It works like a charm.

Christmas in Trinidad is great, especially in the country areas. Christmas is a very social time in Trinidad and Tobago with most people having parties. Both children and adults go from house to house between neighbours and relatives for food and drink. A special Trinidadian music, Parang is also played as well as other Christmas songs. There would be Parang groups moving from house to house, singing Parang songs, similar to Caroling in the USA. Then there would be lots of eating, drinking and just plain having fun. In the suburbs it's a little quieter in that after breakfast, family may visit and again it's a time for relaxing, talking, drinking and just catching up on “ole talk”.

What is Parang?…its where a group of people form a band using instruments that were locally made and they sing Spanish Christmas songs. The term Parang is derived from the Spanish word parranda, which means a spree or a fête. ... There are two theories about the origins of Trinidad parang. The first is that the custom was brought to the island by the Spanish colonists who ruled Trinidad from 1498-1797, the other is that Parang is a popular folk music originating from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. It was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who were primarily of Amerindian, Spanish, Mestizo, Pardo, Cocoa panyol, and African heritage, something which is strongly reflected in the music itself.

Parang is an upbeat Venezuelan-Trinidad Parang is an upbeat Venezulean-Trinidad hydrid music normally sung in Spanish. Now there’s also “soca parang” where songs are sung in English. In the evenings around Christmas, many people like to be “Parranderos”

Parang music includes a "core" instrumentation of the following:

  • Cuatro

  • Guitar

  • Violin

  • Mandolin

  • Bandolin

  • Box bass or string bass (and more currently, electric bass)

  • Maracas (or "chac-chac")

  • Wood block (or "toc-toc")

Trinidad has a multitude of races, that have a distinct cultural influence on Trinidad. These distinct cultures that have a major influence on the culture of Trinidad and Tobago are IndianAfricanPortugueseAmerindianSpanishChinese, and others. The country's links with the United Kingdom have left a major impact on its culture, and English is widely spoken across the nation. Which guides us and we tend to follow a tradition on how we celebrate Christmas.

In Trinidad and Tobago, it is customary to not only thoroughly clean out your home in preparation for Christmas but to renovate and redecorate it. New curtains, furnishings, household appliances, and more are shopped for and put in place. This is also the time of year to re-paint your house’s exterior and every single room.

People also traditionally re-varnish old furniture for Christmas and re-stain hardwood flooring. This gives the house a new shine for the Yuletide,

Most go to church the night before then in the next day is all about relaxing and family. Because before Christmas after most people have painted, made repairs to their houses, hung new curtains and decorations (especially lights) it's then time for most families to spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family members.

The Christmas day meal is usually prepared throughout mid-December, and into the New Year! The traditional Trinbagonians Christmas meal include apples and grapes, pastilles (a version of tamales), homemade bread, ham, turkey, wild meat (iguana, agouti, etc) and the Christmas drinks are ginger beer, sorrel, Ponche-de-crème (a version of egg nog), local wine.

Ham and Ponche-de-Creme. Best at Christmas.

Ginger beer, the Christmas drink in Trinidad.

Trinidad Christmas fruitcake is the traditional desert and is eaten in most homes (the fruits such as raisins and sultanas in the cake are usually soaked in cherry wine, sherry and rum for several months before Christmas). These foods are delicious and were all passed down from the generations before. It is washed down with the Christmas drink Sorrel made from sorrel where the seed is removed and the skin boiled in water, strained, sweetened and made into the sorrel drink.

sorrel drink.

The great food also comes along with the Putting up of a beautiful Christmas Tree and many family members come home for the holidays.

Trini Christmas Traditions

So if you’re a local, or a visitor lucky enough to experience Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago, you’ll know that there is nothing quite like a true “Trini Christmas”. The food, the atmosphere and the traditions that have evolved over the years make Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago truly unique. I hope you get an opportunity to visit our fair twin island.

Visitors to the average household during the Christmas season are normally treated royally to local food, drinks and music. Invitations from friends and neighbours are normally accepted in the period between Christmas and New Year's Day.


Gail Circular.

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