Christmas traditions from faraway lands
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
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.
Marion Lowe McLean recalls Christmas in Jamaica.