Christmas Traditions

atlas of the world

We are scattered all over the world. My siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws. Our children now speak Japanese, German, Norwegian, Tagalog, and of course English (albeit the Canadian and British variety). And at Christmas time, each family living in a particular country will celebrate in the tradition of that nation.

My cousin Michelle in Switzerland commemorates the season with the arrival of Christkindli, an angel who enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers.

Peter in the Philippines will, as is the custom there, start celebrating in early September. This is the world's longest Christmas season. Then on Christmas day, he and his children will attend the Misa de Aguinaldo between 10 pm and midnight and will spend the day visiting and paying respects to the elder family members.

In Toronto, Canada where the winters are cold and dark, my cousins look forward to the lights put up in their public buildings and spaces and always attend the Cavalcade of Lights Festival, a month long event with ice skating and parties.

One thing we all have in common however is the inclusion of Jamaican Christmas in the ways of the ancestors. Every family bakes the traditional plum pudding, a British sweet we've improved on with lots of rum, dried fruit and spices. And no one forgets to make the Christmas sorrel, a punch made from the deep red plant of the same name, and spruced up with ginger and wine. Then on Christmas Day, we all have dinner at the home of one relative (somehow, in South Florida, it's always me) and call each other, screaming happy greetings half way around the world. On that day, though we are all far apart, we come together in spirit. It's madness and it's joy. It's one love and one heart. It's Christmas.