Christmas traditions in Tobago
Posted Dec 18, 2020
Christmas in Tobago is a special occasion, captured in the preparations, food, music, the warmth and love of the people.
For many, the holidays signify starting fresh in the new year. Homes are given elaborate preparation beforehand by cleaning, painting and general repairs, new curtains and various decorations from the simple to the elaborate may be seen festooning homes.
Traditional food served at Christmas time consists of generous helpings of ham, turkey, pastelles, fruit cake, sweetbreads, and other selected delicacies, along with traditional drinks such as sorrel, ginger beer, and ponche de crème.
Entertainment comes in the form of song, dance and Parang, a popular genre of music that's heard throughout the holiday season. With origins in Venezuela, it was brought to Trinidad and Tobago by Venezuelans who were primarily of Amerindian, Spanish, Mestizo, Pardo, Cocoa panyol, and African heritage, something which is strongly reflected in the music itself.
With chac chacs (maracas), a cuatro and a guitar, people in different communities travel from house to house throughout the villages serenading the locals with parang songs.
These paranderos (wandering minstrels) would pay nocturnal visits to the homes of family and friends where part of the fun is waking the inhabitants of the household from their beds. For their rousing performance, they're typically welcomed with warm hospitality in the form of food and drinks.
It's not unusual to always have food and drinks in excess in anticipation for the number of friends and family that pass by to lime (hang out) with drinks in hand and music to set the holiday tone. There are also several activities that the whole family to enjoy including kite flying during the day and bamboo bursting at night.