As St Lucia is a predominantly Catholic nation, Christmas is of course one of the island’s most celebrated events.
Christmas carols start being heard on the radio around mid-November and from then on it’s full steam ahead in most households as everyone prepares for the festivities. The main towns are decorated and there is a general buzz of excitement in the air.
The traditional drinks that are consumed at this time are sorrel, which is made from the red petals of the Roselle Plant (a type of hibiscus); it is nice and sweet and bright red in colour. Another firm favourite is ginger beer.
There is also an abundance of yam at this time of year so this is always served as an accompaniment to Christmas dinner, which traditionally consists of roast meat – either Lamb, pork, beef or turkey (a Western influence) – with ground provisions (plantain, sweet potato, dasheen etc).
Spicy black pudding is also served and everyone has Christmas cake, which is a rich traditional fruit cake that is almost black in colour. All the fruits in the cake have traditionally been soaked in red wine for at least three months prior to being baked in the cake.
It really starts to get Christmassy from around the 12th December, which is the Festival of Lights celebration. Lanterns are shaped into various designs (usually household items!) and there is a big exhibition in The Derek Walcott Square in Castries. Here the switching on of the lights occurs and signals the official start of the festivities.
On Christmas Eve everyone gets dressed up in their finest to attend midnight mass held at Roman Catholic churches around the island. After the service, parties start and these often carry on until morning, before all the work starts on preparing Christmas lunch. Consequently December 25th is usually a very quiet day on the island, with most people staying at home and resting.