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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Christmas Decorations in Dominica

When you’re looking at the map of the world, you can see Dominica is an island. Does this mean it’s culturally isolated? Certainly not! Christmas customs of Dominica are good evidence against such isolation; they have a lot in common with English traditions and those of the US. Like Christmas tree. But again, it does not mean Dominica has no traditions of its own.

One month to Christmas… Can we see something already? Buildings are decorated with colorful clothes and lights, they get renovated and furbished. Christmas trees are everywhere. Christmas songs and carols are on the radio all the time. Some people congratulate each other through the newspapers. And yes, there are special sales in Dominica, too. Add to them lots of instant, unexpected and free lottos–and you have an idea about how profit for “a thing” in itself is valued.

Most gifts are only bought on Christmas Eve. Streets get crowded and jammed, but nobody is outraged. At this time the demand magic delivers best toys to the stores and eventually makes hundreds of kids happy

Caribbean Santa Claus

There’s no need for buying gifts beforehand. Take it as a part of the local lifestyle. After all, is there any reasonable urge for early anxiety? Advances of the opposite are obvious: You don’t feel alone even if you’re on your own, and the holidays become really different. You can always run into your friend or neighbor, because the island is relatively small. And if you worry about whether you’ll be pushed for time, don’t. This is the day when stores and shops are open till late. In addition to that, at ten p.m. street are totally empty: Everyone leaves for preps and celebration.

Wherever in the world there are relatives, they get together. Mostly, it’s not a religious holiday, but a family one. By the way, a family typically has at least 4-5 kids, but in fact many families are larger. Despite religiousness does not affect utterly the spirit of the holiday, many people will go to church for the night mass. It’s called Réveillon. It’s French, and it actually means a night supper party… Yeah, folks, the French culture affected Dominica, too.

Christmas fruitcake

As for the supper party thing… Well, a feast means a lot for celebration. Groaning boards is a distinction of the holiday in Dominica. People cosher each other up with lots of delicious things when it’s Christmas time. Just imagine: pies, cookies, soups, salads, meat courses, cakes, rum, ginger beer, juices and other beverages… Hits of the holiday are such tasty things as black pudding and Christmas fruit cake. The ingredients for the fruit cake should be prepared several months before the day. So should meat. A Christmas pig is really being fattened that long. When smoked, it exhales tempting odor, while tastes even better… Now that’s what we call a feast.

Other things welcome are freshness and cleanness. It’s not just about the houses; the islanders will also cut the lawns and decorate the trees in the gardens. What’s more interesting, they will certainly get rid of what they don’t need, whether they are rich or poor.

Boxing Day is a day for visiting friends and going for outings. What can be any better than a picnic near a river or at the sea shore? You’re right, it’s again about food. But is it any bad? Nah, it’s the opposite.

Image of Black Santa Claus

The tropical climate of Dominica suggests a lot of possibilities to have fun and celebrate. No skiing, no snowballs, no snowmen–right. At once, it’s the awake nature, wildlife, the warm sea. All these make a good flavoring for picnics, especially when you add the holiday spirit to the mixture.

As for the New Year’s Day, most people behave typically: Go to church and then go dancing… This may look awkward to those who grew up in a different environment, but it’s how the things are in Dominica. Many people regret for some customs gone. Years before, it was quite normal to do caroling in the street to make people smile. That was what they called Sewenal. The Sewenal leader also announced how many days were left till Christmas.

Other carolers would do the caroling with candles, and they didn’t shrink from coins some listeners would give them. And of course they didn’t mind to get a piece of cake or a cup of coffee. In fact, whenever a group of carolers came over to a house, the hosts were ready to give them treats to eat or drink. In the beginning of the twenty century, people of Roseau would order a real pine tree from England. The ordered trees were decorated and set in the park.

Preparations were simpler: Some cleaning with coco shucks and brushes, and that’s it. Well, they would also get kitchen tools polished and fresh decorations put. Busy people would not even bother to take the decorations off. Why should they, they would be going to need them a year later, anyway.

This is how Christmas is and how it was celebrated in Dominica. Who knows, maybe someday there is going to be a new way to celebrate?

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Christmas Day has been officially over for days now, but of course, there are many who will continue to enjoy the holidays , while there are those others suggesting that the holidays should be put behind us as quickly as possible so as to get down to the business.

The intention would be to ensure some of the problems and concerns do not travel too far with us into the New Year and that we can make 2010 a very special year in the development of our nature island.

But with the recent attempt to blow a plane full of people out of the sky, allegedly by someone with links to terrorism, helps us to understand that even outside of our domestic concerns related to poor economies and crime, there are simply some unfathomable things carrying on around us and which will eventually affect the way we choose to go about our daily lives.

The fact of the matter is that the world has indeed become very small and people from all of its parts can easily set up interests, just about anywhere, and everybody’s agenda is carried out with very little consideration for what they might consider “the collateral damage”.

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Christmas Stockings Hanging over Fireplace

In less than four days the main Christmas holiday will be upon us, and already I have seen, to a great extent that this is still the season for “caring and sharing” even though the sharing portion might be a bit shortened this year by elections campaigns and that several countries suffering from extremely weakened economies.

Still, for the most part, there are several individuals, groups and organisations that continue to make the effort to ensure, especially, the less fortunate groups among us are given an opportunity to enjoy some of those things they would not have had access to during the rest of the year. I pray that the authorities and members of the general public seek to find ways in which they might be able to do more to assist those in the country who might not be able to assist themselves.

From caring and sharing to peace on earth and goodwill to all men, the lessons are there to be learnt. We do well at Christmas and possibly another time or two during the year but, for the most part, there is much to be desired and this holiday season should remind each of us of this and get us to move accordingly.

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