A Guyanese Christmas – Part 1
It is that time of the year again! Where will you be spending Christmas this year? What is your favourite Christmas food? What Christmas tradition does your family observe? Do you play dress up Santa? Do you go caroling? Or, have you been good this year? Were you naughty or nice?
Scores of Guyanese living abroad travel home each year to celebrate Christmas with their family and friends. At Christmas time, people would do general cleaning of their homes and getting all the minor repairs and other cosmetic work done on their house – there is alot of washing, sweeping, and cobwebbing (a process of getting rid of dust lying around the house or possibly spiders web) – then there is the last minute shopping for decorations, window curtains, and food items – making sure everything is readily available. The excitement and lavish spending coupled with the Christmas carols on the airwaves entertaining with music such as, “frosty the snow man”, “Little Christmas tree”, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, and I am dreaming of a white Christmas”, (although, many of us has never seen snow) the stores decorated – gifts and everything Christmas. All these stirs up them Christmas spirit in our hearts and all of a sudden the world seems like the perfect place to live in. Christmas really brings about a feeling of merriment and light-heartedness.
A Guyanese version of Little Christmas Tree.
Masquerade bands appearing in the streets. Mother Sally, Bull Cow, Flouncers and Long lady (men on stilts dressed as women with wig and mask) all decorated in bright beautiful colours. The Flouncers in this band must receive a tip from passing vehicles before he is allowed to pass. Bull Cow does the wild tango and raises its head. Masquerade bands is as old as slavery, where the slave masters, for the purpose of entertainment, would ask the slaves to play their music and dance. It is traditional for the masqueraders who flounces with their palms outstretched, do not wear a smile, reason given, is that, their are coming to you to fulfill a need, and, not wearing a smile, symbolizes a state of sorrow.
A typical Masquerade band in Georgetown.
In the midst of all the preparation and excitement, many people still attend church service on Christmas morning, as is traditional. After the service, the meeting and greeting takes place – persons whom you have not seen all year round shows up. Then heading back home to be with your family and have that special breakfast that the majority of people have only once a year at Christmas time.
Christmas in Guyana cannot be spent without a taste of one or more of these dishes. Savor the taste of Pepperpot, Roast Pork, Ginger beer, Black Cake, Garlic Pork. Wow!! Nothing but mouthwatering.