Letters: Celebrating Christmas in T&T

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CHRISTMAS in Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a truly unique experience having evolved over the years with the assimilation of our rich and enduring multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious roots.

Named for La Trinity, after the Spanish explorers landed in Moruga a little over 500 years ago, this Christian event which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, would forever be etched in our culture. Further, what has become a truly Christmas miracle is the way the celebration has been embraced by everyone.

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This powerful combination of religion, culture, ethnicities, food, music and commercialism is a potent accelerant for the outpouring of the inherent good nature and comradery of us, Trinbagonians. We are usually, willing to overlook past personal differences and instead engage in activities that engender love and sharing.

The day stands out on our calendars as a beacon of anticipation for all, throughout the year. Holiday gatherings, family vacations and financial undertakings are all planned around this season.

Dinesh Rambally. AZP News/Azlan Mohammed

One can discern a change in the atmosphere as the season approaches, heralded by the playing of Christmas themed songs on the radio, and jingles enticing consumers.

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The ubiquitous Christmas lights adorn business districts to attract shoppers and add a festive mood while homes are colourfully and spectacularly lit up, bringing out a competitive streak among homeowners. It’s all in good fun and in the spirt of the occasion as homes smell of fresh paint and vans arrive with new furniture and appliances. One can also hardly miss the crowded fabric stores where homemakers jostle to pick out curtains.

Christmas is undisputably for the children and they more than anyone look forward to their rewards for being a good boy or girl. Leading up to Christmas, hints would have been dropped on what they would like as gifts which has moved on from toy trucks and dolls to electronic gadgets and other handheld devices. Their anticipation and joy on Christmas morning cannot be underestimated as they build a reservoir of beautiful memories which are passed on to successive generations.

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Adults customarily anticipate their share of this special time of the year as families use the season to renew kinship over the sharing of food and drinks, and quality time spent cementing familial bonds.

Despite consumerism intruding on everyday life, where most things can be bought off the shelf, Trinbagonians still take great pride in cooking their own food, and baking the Christmas staples. The cuisine and baked cakes and pastries are unique to our twin islands, so much so, that it makes its way to family and friends domiciled in other parts of the world. Homes are filled with the mouthwatering scents of pone, black cake, sweet bead, pastelles and loaves. Some indulge in different styles of cooked meats whilst others prefer wild game.

On the special day, friends and family happily labour over the preparation of these gastronomic delights with many of the recipes having been tweaked to add the Trini flavour. The menu always include a refreshing glass of sorrel.

This Christmas feast which comes only once a year, is heightened with the accompaniment of traditional Trini seasonal music. The airwaves are filled with parang, soca parang, calypsoes (some sentimental Christmas favourites), as well as chutney and the new soca releases for Carnival.

I am fully aware that this year’s celebration may not be as enjoyable for some who have experienced personal hardships and loss. I wish them courage at this time.

We should all learn the lessons of Christmas which stresses goodwill to all while mindful of the message of Jesus Christ in the face of oppression and tyranny which forced his parents to seek refuge in a stable where he was born more than two thousand years ago.

My hope is that people across the length and breadth of our Country will enjoy a peaceful and happy Christmas which will also tide over into the New Year.

Dinesh Rambally
Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West

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