Caribbean Christmas Traditions As Vibrant As The Islands

Caribbean Christmas Traditions are Unique and Vibrant Like The Islands

Christmas celebrations in the Caribbean are among the most festive in the world.  Each island has developed unique and vibrant traditions that have been nurtured throughout the years. A distinct local spice is added to each tradition to create a Caribbean Christmas flavor particular to the island it represents.  The common thread among all the islands is the consistent celebratory atmosphere that inspires nostalgia for any person who has ever experienced it. Though many Caribbean islands are still recovering from the hurricane onslaught earlier in the year , the jubilation of the season remains. Locals and adventurous travelers can be certain that a Christmas celebrated in the Caribbean will be filled with sun, beaches, high energy and an infectious spirit of celebration.*


Junkanoo is one of the treasured Caribbean Christmas traditions on the island of Bahamas. The festival kicks off Boxing Day and brings with it a plethora of festivities as masqueraders parade through the streets in their ‘papier marche’ costumes while musicians play trumpets, drums and other musical instruments that put everyone in a dancing mood.


John Canoe bands , to be differentiated from Junkanoo in Bahamas, is the order of the day for many Belizeans. This Caribbean Christmas tradition highlights bands with drummers, chanters and dancers at Christmas. The celebrations are rounded out by the popular rum drink called ‘rum popo‘ which is a blend of rum and eggnong.


The French Caribbean continue their Christmas festivities well into the New Year ending on ‘Three Kings’ Day (January 6). This days is designed to commemorate “les Rois” or the coming of the Three Wise Men. This is the day when people everywhere take down their Christmas trees, even in islands where the date is not significant.


The Carricou Parang Festival is an annual staple that ushers in the Christmas season in Grenada. The concert is free and features musical bands of different genres from throughout the island. The festivities continue way into the night when the musical bands go to entertain folks at their homes.


One popular Caribbean Christmas tradition in Guadeloupe is Midnight Mass. It is usually followed by the French tradition of a réveillon, or a late-night meal. This is a Caribbean Christmas norm for many . Pig is the centerpiece of the Christmas meal in Guadeloupe as well. Ham often has the place of pride at the table, but often it is a fresh ham that is closer to roast pork. Riz aux pois Congo, or rice with Congo peas, is another standby, but at times that is replaced with riz aux yeux noire — black-eyed peas and rice.*


Boom Boom Sally or Mother Sally is a Caribbean Christmas tradition in Guyana. The season also used to feature masqueraders going door to door wearing ghost-like costumes and dancing for money. Boom Boom Sally is a figure in a flowing skirt on tall stilts and with the face of a woman and the Cow, a  wood-and-fabric structure in the shape of a cow that had an opening for a man to place it around him.*


Many Haitians drink anisette on Christmas Eve which is a mild alcoholic beverage prepared by soaking “anise” leaves in rum and sweetening it with sugar. On Christmas Eve, the tradition is for children to place their shoes, nicely cleaned up and filled with straw, on the porch or under the Christmas tree for Papa Noel (Santa Claus) to remove the straw and put his presents in and around the shoes. *


Caribbean Christmas traditions on the island of Montserrat is an amalgamation of many different ones. A number of celebrations converge around Christmas time in Montserrat including the house-to-house caroling, masquerade competitions (including Moko Jumbie, “bull man” etc) and a Miss Montserrat show.


St. Kitts breaks from the traditional Caribbean Christmas with a Carnival celebration around that time of year. As with all Caribbean Carnivals it is a huge party with music and dancing in the streets.   It features calypso, steel bands, the big drum and fife corps, masquerade and children’s dancing troupes, the Bull, Moko Jumbies, clowns and string bands.


December 13th ushers in the lights in St. Lucia, the Festival of Lights and Renewal that is. The Festival is a Caribbean Christmas tradition that features a lantern-making competition and the decoration of towns and villages with lights.  The celebration honors the patron saint of light, St. Lucy.


Nationals of Vincent & the Grenadines the annual Nine Mornings Festival each Christmas. Every morning starting nine days before Christmas, locals wake up before dawn and fill the streets to participate in a range of celebratory activities, from sea baths to costumed dances to bicycle rides.


Parang Festivals are a common Caribbean Christmas tradition in Trinidad. The instruments used by parang bands include the bass drum,  iron, guitar, quarto, violin, maracas (shack – shack), mandolin, saxophone, tambourine. Songs use calypso-like themes. Christmas music now also includes Parang Soca (introduced around 1978), a blend of soca music and parang.


SOUND OFF: Tell us your favorite Christmas tradition



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MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.


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