Christmas Festivities

Festive Celebrations

Christmas

How do the celebrations over Christmas and New Year in Carriacou today compare with those pre- TV days of the 1960’s? Of course, everybody’s Christmas is different but here are a few of my recollections of Christmas 1967, Carriacou style.

Sunday 24th December 1967

“We took things easy, pretty well all day. In fact in the afternoon we resorted to playing Ludo; a game I’d bought for Rufi (Alleyne). In the evening we threw dinner for ‘The Alleynes’ and afterwards they went home to prepare for Midnight Mass at the Anglican Church.

Later, after everyone had departed, we were inundated with Seranading groups; just one after the other.  Each group entertained us with songs and music. Over the course of the evening we managed to give away 3 jugs of juice, about 2lbs of sweets, a tray full of biscuits and a few dollars.

At 11pm I went to ‘the Alleynes’ and we all trooped off to Midnight Mass. The service went on for 2 hours and by 1.15am I found myself dropping off to sleep with Rufi on my knee. I was surprised to find that anyone who wished to take communion had to have paid $3.00 in advance and be given a signed card which they had to hand in when they approached the communion rail.”

Monday 25th December 1967

“When the service finally finished in the early hours we took Rufi to Leroy’s (Noel) and joined the ‘Jump-up’ in the Market Square. I’ve never seen so much excitement. Everyone was dancing and ‘jumping’ to a couple of steel bands. I joined in to the strains of ‘Fire, Fire’ (the year’s top calypso by the Mighty Sparrow). The whole crowd was laughing, singing and dancing for hours. Eventually, some of the more inebriated began to get a bit out of hand.

At 5.00am the fighting started. At first it was no more than a scuffle among a few guys who appeared to have had ‘one too many’. Soon, however, it escalated. People started rushing in all directions and bottles began to fly. We left soon after but not before another scuffle had broken out on the other side of the square. As far as I know no-one was hurt and it all calmed down as quickly as it blew up.

I finally arrived home around 6.30am but not before I’d ‘fired’ a couple of ‘jacks’ with Mr Joyette (the tailor) and wished him ‘all the best for Christmas and the New Year’. As I fell asleep I could hear one of the bands, still playing, making its way back from L’Esterre, having played all night.

Christmas Day

I woke around 10.00am. The sun was high and I felt in good spirits despite the ‘all night’ dancing session.

Marion (Alleyne) had prepared Christmas lunch for all of us. George, Cathy and I arrived around 1.30pm.  Marion looked tired. She hadn’t been to bed. Cathy decided to take presents to Billy (Mott) and the lunch was put on hold until she returned. We eventually sat down to eat at 2.00pm. Marion had put on a fabulous meal; as usual.

Very soon afterwards Cathy and George left to join Father Fitton (Catholic priest) to help prepare their evening’s Christmas dinner. I stayed behind and had a ‘cracking’ afternoon, drinking and chatting with ‘Goot’.

I arrived at the Fathers’ around 4.30pm in time to go to the hospital to take the patients their Christmas meal. We arrived to find they had already eaten so the food was handed over to be kept for the following day.

The meal at the Fathers’ was superb; turkey, English potatoes, mixed vegetables and a ‘rare’ Christmas pudding. We spent the evening discussing politics and religion until my eyes began to close. A game of chess was suggested but by that time I had run out of energy and so I took myself home to bed.”

Tues. 26th December – Boxing Day

“I managed to make it down to the beach this morning for a welcome swim. The surf was high. Rollers creamed in and crashed up the beach. The beach itself has changed over the last few weeks. Whereas there has been a gradual slope from the Manchineal to the tide line, today it is split into two levels. Father Fitton tells me that two years ago much of the beach outside the Catholic church was washed away and something like 12 feet of wall foundation was exposed.

In the afternoon we paid visits to Lord Joseph, then to Uthan and Grace (Noel). Like most of these courtesy calls we seemed to drink a great deal and talk even more; mostly about nothing in particular. In the evening we finished off our tour with a visit to Goot and Marion (Alleyne) where we drank some more and discussed everything under the sun. At length, I made my way home and finished the day by developing a couple of films until 1.00am”

If anyone has any Christmas memories of Carriacou please do write in and share them.

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2 Responses to Christmas Festivities

  1. Mary John Stanislaus says:

    This website has brought fond memories of my xmas on the Island of Carriacou. Weeks leading up to Xmas, there would be toys in the shop windows, thinking back it was the same toys every year, but nevertheless it was exciting to see. There would be some little white dolls, mouth organ, christmas stockings with sweets and small toys and everyday after school I’d be eyeing these toys up. In the eyes of a child in Carriacou they were the most amazing toys ever.
    I can’t remember exactly, but I think its a few days before xmas ,when we had what was called ‘shopping day’, when I would be able to spend money given alongside other monies collected from family,family friends, tourists. I would buy a doll,mouth organ and cakes. That was a looovely day!
    On christmas morning, you would eat cake/ham/drink ginger beer and all bands would come round seranading, and everyone would join in singing and dancing. We would then make our way up to the town centre, where Santa would arrive on a boat and hand out presents to the poorer children. You knew he was coming because they would blow the conk shell to let everyone know he was landing. There would be a big Xmas tree in the market square, with presents hung up on the tree.
    Although I didn’t attend the midnight mass, I knew that everyone would start jumping up to the steel band after the mass. Oh it was so lovely-going down memory lane.

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