“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” - Luke 6:37
Christmas is celebrated by billions the world over and the Caribbean is no exception. The spirit of the Christmas season, centered around our families and friends, is one of giving, forgiving and love. Many of us use the occasion to recalibrate our happiness systems and embark the coming year with New Year resolutions which bring us closer to the fulfillment of our lives.
The celebration is manifested in many ways.
Traditionally, thousands from the Diaspora come home for the popular Christmas season to celebrate with family and friends. They stay with their family and in hotels and guest houses.
Christmas is a festival which has been a major calendar event in the tourism industry over the last 60 years. It was usually nigh impossible for a tourist to find a hotel room during the week between Christmas and New Year, unless it was booked well in advance. This year COVID-19 has dampened the spirit and revelry because of reduced travel, public health protocols, and the restriction to small gatherings to control the spread of the disease.
Reports vary from country to country concerning hotel occupancies for Christmas 2020.
Nevertheless, over the last several weeks the airwaves have been full of Christmas music in many forms which reflect the multicultural nature of the region.
The sweet Spanish influential beat of Parang leads the way in Trinidad and Tobago. Parranderos announce their arrival in song and seek to gain entry to the homes of family and friends to relay the story of the birth of Christ, and to share in the joy of the message of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men”.
Classical choirs, sweet steel pan and individual calypso and soca artistes spread harmonious melodies into the air to complement the heavenly culinary aromas which waft from the kitchens of Caribbean cuisine, a fusion of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, Latin American, Indian/South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese influences.
There are traditional foods and beverages such as ham, turkey, black cake, pastels, sorrel, ginger beer, pepperpot, and garlic pork, each reflecting the multicultural nature of the Caribbean, with various jurisdictions having their own variations and special dishes.
Christmastime is party time with lots of lights, decorations, gift exchanges and dressing up in Christmas regalia. In the Caribbean, many Rotary Clubs have sponsored carols by candlelight, but this year these events had to be virtual.
Let us, within the limits of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continue the practice of giving among our family and friends at home and to the visitors to our shores.
Let us remember those who have lost their jobs as the result of the economic decline, and those less fortunate than ourselves, and help to supply their needs.
Now that the vaccination program has begun, it is not too early to plan for a Caribbean Christmas in 2021, and remember that tourism is our key to the recovery process.
Merry Christmas to all, be safe!