Discover A Lucian Christmas
So youâ€™re escaping the cold this holiday season! We have to agree, youâ€™ve made an excellent choice. But if youâ€™re a little concerned about missing out on the festivities back home, donâ€™t be. Lucians have plenty here!
While you wonâ€™t see local people building snowmen, skating on ice rinks and sipping
Starbucks or Tim Hortonsâ€™ newest beverage, youâ€™ll certainly encounter many other holiday traditions on the island. In fact, St. Lucians are known for having a rich culture filled with customs. So while youâ€™re basking in the sun, secretly laughing at your shovel bearing, frostbitten friends back home, keep your holiday spirit alive. Only this year, make it a Caribbean Christmas!
To experience a true taste for how the people of the â€˜Helen of the West Indiesâ€™ celebrate this joyous holiday, try teasing your senses with these Lucian Christmas traditions:
The holidays wouldnâ€™t be the same without an abundance of food weâ€™re only privy to annually. Just like your momâ€™s homemade shortbread, or your grandmaâ€™s pumpkin pie, Lucians have some much anticipated menu items as well. Two favourites of the locals are Black Cake (their version of Fruit Cake) and Black Pudding. Black Cake preparation often begins months in advance of Christmas. The fruits, such as Raisins, Currents and Cherries, are sometimes soaked in alcohol (Wine or Rum) for upwards of two months. A lot of love goes into that yummy dessert. Black Pudding, on the other hand, isnâ€™t a dessert at all. In fact, itâ€™s more like a gigantic sausage that is filled with a rather acquired tasting ingredient â€“ animal blood. Also known as Blood Pudding, this delicacy is actually a great source of Iron, Niacin, Protein and Copper. But letâ€™s be honest, the locals arenâ€™t concerned about that. They just think it tastes great!
Letâ€™s face it, Christmastime usually equates to beverage time! Whether youâ€™re drinking a whip topped hot chocolate, or rum spiked eggnog, weâ€™re sure there are plenty of special drinks you look forward to. In St. Lucia, itâ€™s all about the Ginger Beer and Sorrel Juice. Ginger Beer is actually a non-alcoholic spicy tasting drink that is intended to warm the soul. Made by combining grated ginger, lime, water and sugar, this concoction sits for 24hours before itâ€™s ready to enjoy. Sorrel Juice, in contrast, is sweet! Itâ€™s made from a flower-like herb that comes in season around this time. Often combined with water, sugar, nutmeg and clove, Sorrel juice is a surefire request by local residents as they conduct their traditional â€˜house-to-houseâ€™ Christmas visitations with neighbors and friends.
While many people around the world are accustomed to â€˜Spring Cleaningâ€™, Lucians have their own annual cleaning frenzy time at Christmas. Since itâ€™s common practice for locals to take part in â€˜house-to-houseâ€™ visits (think house hopping) many homeowners prepare by completing minor home renovations and doing a full clean sweep. Many Lucians look forward to the house-to-house tradition, as itâ€™s a chance to get reacquainted with neighbours and friends, and enjoy good food together. Another event that brings locals together is The Festival of Lights. Typically occurring on December 12th, at Derek Walcott Square in Castries, lanterns are shaped into interesting designs from cardboard and other household items. Then, after the square is draped in various lights, there is a ceremonial â€˜switching onâ€™, which signifies the real start of festivities (more below). Castries is also where another widely popular event unfolds on Christmas Eve â€“ Midnight Mass. Although Midnight Mass occurs across the island in all Catholic Churches, the largest one is held at Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Cathedral), which is located in the heart of Castries city.
While classic carols can often be heard across the island, Lucians celebrate with their own Christmas tunes as well. The standard Soca & Calypso rhythms usually vibrating through the air are transformed to reflect the holiday vibe and St. Lucian Folk Music is also heard in celebration of culture and folk traditions. Aside from music however, there is one other common sound you should expect to hear. Generally beginning after Creole Day in October, the island begins to â€˜explodeâ€™ with the sounds of Bamboo Bursting. Bamboo Bursting is a tradition passed down by St. Lucian forefathers and involves turning a bamboo trunk into a small cannon. Traditionally, a group of young men will venture into the forest in search of large bamboo trunks that they can cut and shape into a cannon. Then, with the addition of a little fuel and some heat, they produce a load bang. So donâ€™t be alarmed if your ears detect a rather shocking sound this season theyâ€™re just celebrating!