Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Celebrations in the Caribbean

Merry Christmas from Travel 2 the Caribbean! 

My hope is that your holiday is filled with the special people in your lives, along with enjoying your favorite things. 

Photo Credit: Villas of Distinction

Christmas in the Caribbean is a diverse mix of historic English, French, Spanish and Dutch traditions and culture. 

Photo Credit: Spot Cayman

The English Speaking Caribbean Islands not only celebrate Christmas Day, the holiday continues the day after Christmas which is known as Boxing Day. 

Anguilla, Antigua/Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Caymans, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad/Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Virgin Islands (U.S. & British)

St Kitts Carnival - Photo Credit

In addition to celebrating Christmas, the island of St. Kitts and Nevis also celebrates their Carnival which showcases the nation’s culture and heritage.

In the Islands of the Bahamas celebrate both Christmas and a completely different holiday celebration called Junkanoo that kicks off at 2:00 a.m. on December 26th. 

Another unique Christmas tradition is “bursting the bamboo” on the island of St Lucia. Men use kerosene with rag and stick fuses to make canons out of hallowed out bamboo. From the end of November through New Years, you will hear sounds of bamboo bursting during the night. 

"Backing Sand" is unique to the Cayman islands. In this old island tradition locals start gathering sand months before Christmas, and put the sand into even piles in their yards.  On Christmas Eve morning the sand piles are swept across the yard to resemble snow. 

Joyeux Noel is celebrated in the French Caribbean Islands of Haiti, St Barths, St Martin, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

Tropical Christmas in Guadeloupe - Photo Credit:

On the Eve of Christmas (Noel or Nwel) all of the French Caribbean celebrate réveillon (a long leisurely dinner) with family and friends. 

Most of the islands favorite seasonal drink is Ti Punch, however on the island of Haiti, the drink of choice is Anisette. All of the children have expectations of Pere Noel or Papa Noel bringing goodies.  

Bon Pasco or Bon Anja is celebrated in the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba. 

A triple Christmas is celebrated on December 6th - birthday of St. Nicholas - on Christmas morning, and on January 6th when the Three Kings leave good boys and girls presents at the Nativity scene. 

Sinterklaas is the Dutch version of Santa Claus, and his helpers are known as Zwarte Piets, or literally, “Black Petes”. 

Sinterklaas arrives in the Caribbean by boat, except on the tiny mountain island of Saba, where he arrives via Winair Airlines.

Christmas Cactus on the island of Bonaire - Photo Credit Bonaire.Nu

Feliz Navidad in the Spanish Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

Christmas decorations in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico - Photo Credit

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic both have much longer Christmas season celebrations, and on both islands the main celebration is Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). 

Christmas in the Dominican Republic last approximately three months from October thru January. During this time Dominicans enjoy caroling parties, fireworks, good food, and quality family time. Seasonal drinks are Ron/Rum, Té de jengibre (ginger tea) and coffee. The expense of the Christmas season is helped by most employers who give their workers an extra months pay.  

Christmas celebrations in Puerto Rico start in early December and continue to the middle of January.  Nine days before Christmas, the Mass of the Carols begins each morning at 5:30 a.m. with carolers going from house to house. 

The big Christmas celebrations are Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), Christmas Day (Navidad), New Year's Eve (Despedida de Año), and the most important day for children is Three Kings Day (el Día de Reyes) on January 6th, the day of Epiphany.

Celebrating the traditions of Christmas is a special time all around the globe. My hope is that your holiday is filled with special people and your favorite things. 

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels,

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