Ch­rist­mas tra­di­tions from fa­ra­way lands

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Ho­li­day cus­toms and tra­di­tions mean dif­ferent things to dif­ferent people, but those from fa­ra­way lands who now call Vau­dreuil-Sou­langes home still re­flect fond­ly cus­toms fromthe past.

For the se­cond year, we as­ked a rea­der to share some ho­li­day tra­di­tions that made gro­wing up in ano­ther part of the world so spe­cial.

Ma­rion Lowe McLean

In Saint-La­zare

Ja­mai­ca

Ch­rist­mas in Ja­mai­ca

On Ch­rist­mas mor­ning in the vil­lages in the moun­tains where I li­ved in Ja­mai­ca, we had what is cal­led Jan­ku­nu, or a mas­que­rade pa­rade. It is a cus­tom lef­to­ver from the days of sla­ve­ry be­cause Ch­rist­mas Day was the on­ly time slaves got any time off to vi­sit friends from other plan­ta­tions. For Jan­ku­nu, people from near­by vil­lages get dres­sed up and wear ela­bo­rate and so­me­times ter­ri­fying masks like a horse face or the face of a king or queen. There can be 40, 50 or even 100 people who meet up in the dif­ferent vil­lages as they tra­vel from home to home. People then join them as they go, fol­lo­wing and dan­cing along. It be­comes a large, won­der­ful pa­rade. The mas­ked people dance to drum mu­sic and a spe­cial fife made from bam­boo reeds. When they get to your house the mas­ked dan­cers come in­to the yard or in­to the home. They play and chase the chil­dren and eve­ryone is lau­ghing. People give them­mo­ney but if the dan­cers think the amount you gave is not en­ough, they keep cha­sing the chil­dren around the yard and dan­cing. It is great fun!

We have San­ta Claus in Ja­mai­ca, too, and when we were chil­dren we would try to stay up to watch him fill our sto­ckings (but we ne­ver did see him.)

A tra­di­tio­nal Ch­rist­mas mor­ning break­fast is li­ver and green ba­na­nas and plantain. We al­so had won­der­ful hard-dough bread made in the shape of a duck.

My pa­rents were pros­pe­rous far­mers and it is tra­di­tio­nal for people of means to send their chil­dren to serve the food to the poo­rer people as a gift to them.

Since we li­ved on a farm, there was plen­ty of food and we would have our tra­di­tio­nal meal at mid-day and then go pick sweet fruit right off the vine.

PHOTO KRIS­TI­NA EDSON

Ma­rion Lowe McLean re­calls Ch­rist­mas in Ja­mai­ca.

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