Christmas In The Caribbean

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Christmas in the Caribbean is changing fast. Time was when we had to save eggs because we had to make cakes and tarts and the chickens didn’t always lay eggs late in the year.

Some time after mid-November comes the time for making the Christmas black cake, which some people no longer make because they feel it makes them gain weight. That may be true, since it is made with butter and eggs and sugar and spice and everything nice, and that does seem to make one gain weight just by looking at it.

The weather has also changed. On the island of Saint Martin, where I live, it is now dark at 6pm. The temperature is lower. By the end of January/early February our temperature at night will be about 75° instead of 85°. Sweaters will be taken out of the closet.

We also have special drinks for Christmas time. Sorrel is made, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Sorrel is made from the unopened flower of a cousin of the hibiscus. The red petals encase the part that holds the seeds and is covered with tiny prickles, so by the time you have “stripped the sorrel” as they say in the Caribbean, your hands are full of them. Gloves might be the answer, but up to now nobody I know has ever used them for that.

Then there are the fruit tarts, made with a sweet crust and sold all over the place even now. Especially coconut. However, my family’s specialty has always been banana. Full of cinnamon, it is Christmas incarnate at our house.

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