My Caribbean Christmas

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Christmas is a time of celebration all over the Caribbean. Every Island celebrates the festive season in their own little way. From the parties, grand markets, church services to the special food and drinks prepared specifically for the season of Christmas. It truly is a great time of year which often sees many Caribbean people who live outside of their Islands make every effort to be back home for Christmas.

Sadly, the airfares to the Caribbean are absolutely ridiculous. Most people have no choice but to book up to a year in advance just to make the down payments more manageable. Aviation costs and fuel sub-charges are two of the main reasons why flights prices cost the average person an arm, a leg and a whole lot of sacrifices.

Sadly this is not set to change anytime soon, so us Islanders have no other choice but to get adjusted. For those who don’t get the chance to fly back to the Caribbean for Christmas, we do our best to bring it here to the UK. My family and I have found ways to infuse our Caribbean magic into our Christmas celebrations. I compiled a list below of just some of the things that we do.

The House

Caribbean people are extremely house PROUD. When it comes to the place where we lay our heads we go above and beyond. My nan is this way, so is my mum and you know this has been passed onto me. The cleanliness of the house is a top priority.

In the run-up to Christmas, Aunty Lorna will subject the entire premises to a what I call operation LG. Every room is assessed for renovations and has to be thoroughly cleaned and upgraded accordingly. So far this year I have cleaned cupboards, visited Ikea, hand washed tiles and helped mum with some DIY. Every bedroom in the house must have FRESH bedding on for Christmas day.

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The Food

Every year my mum puts on a fantastic spread for my brothers and I. Our Christmas day menu is carefully pieced together and finalised by the 19th of December every year. However, our Christmas dinner would not be the same if some of our favourite Caribbean dishes and drinks were not on the menu. The way we cook in my house is heavily influenced by Jamaican, Guyanese and Trinidadian recipes.

But I have to be honest and let you in on a little secret. There are no curry dishes on our Christmas menu. No Curry goat, no curry nothing. Now I know this might come as a surprise to some of my fellow Caribbean readers. I do hope that no one starts a petition for my Caribbean card to be revoked, lol. Being that we are half Guyanese we eat Curry dishes on a regular basis. So we are not interested in eating it at Christmas, sorry not sorry lol.

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My little brother holding our Turkey in 2016 wearing a West Indian Cricket kit lol

  • Ackee and Saltfish

Jamaica’s national dish of Ackee and Saltfish is served every Christmas morning as part of our Breakfast menu. Accompanied by festivals or fried dumplings, bammy, breadfruit and plantains. Last year my mum threw in a grilled Lobster and let’s just say it went down a treat.

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My Jamaican Christmas Breakfast 2017

  • Pepper Pot

Traditionally, Pepperpot is served at Chrismas time in Guyana and it is one of our national dishes. We serve PP a part of our breakfast menu. It is a stew dish, served with meats such as beef, pork and mutton. But, because most of my family do not eat pork, it is replaced with Cowfoot.

Pepperpot can be served with rice, roti or fresh bread. My mum is a perfectionist so she ensures that our Guyanese-style bread is homemade. Our breakfast menu is a mixture of both our cultures and I love that every year my mum gives us the option to enjoy both.

Other Breakfast options- Fresh baked bread and ham – (Trinidad & Tobago)

Guyanese Pepperpot

Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish.

  • Black Cake

I don’t know which Island this cake originated from but I so thankful for whoever created it. Black/Rum cake is a Christmas and wedding favourite that is enjoyed across many of the Caribbean Islands. Dark in colour and rich in taste the magic behind this divine creation is the diced up dried fruits which are soaked in rum and dark wine for up to a year.

If that is not enough once it is baked it must be laced up in more rum to give it that kick. I am so lucky that my mum is able to bake because we eat it around the clock.  At Christmas time, my mum bakes 4 of these babies and we slice them up for our Christmas visitors.

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The Drinks

  • Homemade Jamaican Sorrel

Every year without fail my mum makes 5 litres of homemade Sorrel. If I don’t taste any Sorrel during the Christmas season, did I even have a Christmas? lol. Sorrel is one of the most popular drinks during the festive season, especially in Jamaica. It is made from the hibiscus Sabdariffa flowers, which is washed, boiled and strained for up to 6 hours and then sweetened to our preferred taste and of course laced with Rum and more Rum.

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  • Guyanese Ginger Beer

This drink is a personal favourite for me because I love the way my Nanny makes it. Guyanese Ginger Beer is light and refreshing much different from the commercial ginger Ones.

It has to be prepared one week before Christmas because it needs to be fermented and combined with all the right ingredients within a timely manner before serving. It can be enjoyes with plenty of ice after a full plate of Christmas dinner. The only thing missing from this combination is the hot Caribbean sun cool breeze.

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Other Drink menu options: Rum, Guinness Punch & Carrot juice (Jamaica) – Ponche-a Creme (Trinidad & Tobago)

Entertainment

As I mentioned earlier there is nothing better than spending Christmas in the Caribbean. My Nanny is currently living her best life in Guyana as I type. Every day she messages me with pictures and updates, I love it. Sadly as I am not in the abroad this year so I just have to make the most of it back here in London. What better way to do this than by bringing the vibes of the Caribbean through our Christmas music and entertainment.

  • Christmas Soca Parang

This might comes as a shocker but there is a genre of Soca music called Parang. These songs are especially for the season of Christmas, it originated in Trinidad and Tobago but has spread across the Caribbean. Paranging is the process whereby we go house to house and exchange food and drink with our neighbours from Christmas day until New years. We drink, have a lime, a laugh and be merry.

On Christmas day at home, we set up our sound system and get the Parang pumping from about 8am. We have two Caribbean neighbours who we exchange food and drink with every year. I really love this element of my Christmas and look forward to gifting others with what my family have prepared. Aside from the Soca Parang, we play Reggae music, Gospel and other traditional Christmas songs.

Here are my top 3 Christmas Soca Parang Songs

  1. Sugar Aloes – Black Cake

2. Brindley Benjamin – Santa Looking for a Wife

3. Baron – It’s Christmas 

  • Dominoes

In most Jamaican households you will find a pack of Dominoes. Christmas is never complete without a  few heated games of Dominoes amongst the family. I highly suggest playing this one after exchanging gifts and eating food, because it can get intense and somewhat emotional. I am nothing but a spectator when it comes to the game of Dominoes, this is far from my lane and I tend to stay out of it. I just love the high energy within the atmosphere and the vibes amongst the players and their supporters.

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  • Ludi board

Another game that my family love to play at Christmas time is the Ludi board. I dabble in this game from time to time but I am not as good as I used to be back in the day. Just like Dominoes, the Ludi board can be just intense. But you just have to keep your eyes peeled for those sly cheaters because they can be so slippery. Our Ludi board at home is 20 years old and came straight out of  Kingston Jamaica.maxresdefault.jpg

These are just some of the things my family and I do to incorporate our Caribbean roots into our UK Christmas celebrtations. It may be a little different from the way you and your family do things but that is ok because we are all different. I love that even though I live in the UK, my family are still able to feel connected to our culture through food, music, and other family traditions passed down.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you can relate in any way let me know below.  Also, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas whether it will be A Bae-less Christmas or not, please try your best to enjoy it as Christmas only comes around once a year.

(Please note, I do not own the rights to some of these images used within this post)

PS: My Last post will be out on Saturday 29th December 2018 – My 27th Birthday!!

Family Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Stay Blessed

Lots Of Love

Jenna

xoxo

JWV: Travel bucket list

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If you are like me, then you probably have a long list of countries that you would like to visit. I think about travelling every day and since I started my blogging journey, all I want to do is book flights.

The world is ours for the taking and if we put our mind and coins to it, we can see the world one country at a time. I finally decided to put together my travel bucket list. It changes from time to time, but I managed to round it down to my top ten. I desire to visit all of these countries within the next few years and I believe this will happen, somehow lol. Check out my full list below and please note it is not in any particular order.

Enjoy x

1. Take a dip in the thermal pool at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

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Why? The Blue Lagoon’s geothermal spa is probably the number one reason why many tourists flock to Iceland year in and year out. The temperature is between 37 – 40 degrees and it is said to have some amazing revitalising benefits for your entire body. Not to mention the scenery which helps to create a therapeutic atmosphere and dope backdrop for your pictures. I would definitely like to visit the Blue Lagoon for a solo trip or a group holiday. If you are interested in going, hit me up, serious enquiries only lol.

2. Climb the great wall of China

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Why? It is impossible to talk about China and not mention the great wall. In my opion, it is arguably one of the major landmarks in China. I have always been intrigued by it and one point I obsessed with doing a sponsored walk across the wall for Charity.  The great wall of China took over 20 years to build and apparently, it takes about 18months to walk across it from start to finish. I probably will not be able to do that but I am still up to give it a go.

3. Volunteer with SLV Global in Bali

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Why? SLV is an organisation based in London that runs volunteer and work programs for psychology students and graduates interested in gaining experience in the mental health sector. The project has expanded to Bali and run a variety of services within the community based on improving mental health facilities. To see the impact of mental health in a community outside of my culture would be an amazing experience. What better place to do this than in Bali. I have never volunteered abroad before, so I feel like this would be an amazing opportunity that will contribute to both my personal and professional career development.

4. Sit on the steps of Escadaria Selarón in Brazil

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Why? Micheal Jackson featured these steps in his ‘They don’t really care about us’ video and I have been in awe of them since. It is one of my favourite music videos and whenever it used to come on tv, my big brother and I would go crazy, lol. Before I leave this world, my feet must touch the soil in Brazil. These steps do have a deeper meaning, but I have to thank the greatest entertainer of all time for bringing them to my attention through his artistry. The Escadaria Selarón steps were created as a tribute to the Brazillian people, designed by Chilean designer Jorge Selaron. Each tile was hand-painted by the artist himself and there are exactly 215 steps in total.

5. See the worlds largest single drop waterfall at Kaieteur Falls in Guyana

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Why? Kaieteur Falls is one of the worlds most powerful waterfalls located in my beautiful country of Guyana (I am half Guyanese and Jamaican btw). Being that this waterfall is in my home country is just one of the main reasons why I want to go and see it. Seriously though it is a beautiful sight and I would love to go see it up close and personal. I know when you think of Guyana, you probably do not have much in mind, but there is so much beauty and richness to be found in my country. Guyana is a diverse nation and in the future, I plan to share knowledge with you about it, as well as my views about current things happening within the country.

6. Walk around the grounds of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana

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Why? Cape Coast castle is an old slave castle built on the Gold Coast of Ghana. It was used excessively during the Atlantic slave trade. The history is not pretty or glamorous but it is important for me as a Black woman to visit such places and take in the history for myself. I truly believe that this will be a humbling experience and I look forward to the day I can say that I have done it. Plus I am yet to do any real travelling within Africa, I have been to Morocco but does not count in my eyes. I believe that Ghana would be a great place to start, as it is one place that I have always been interested in, plus I often get mistaken for being Ghanaian anyway, lol.

7. Eat authentic Beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans

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Why? To be honest I first discovered Beignets from the Disney film, The Princess and the frog. Shout out to Princess Tiana for putting me on. I have been obsessed ever since I watched the film and I am desperate to taste of this famous pastry. Beignets are known as a New Orleans speciality, normally served for breakfast. The best Beignets can found at the well-known Cafe Du Monde established in 1862. I can not wait to try real Beignets, so I look forward to ticking this off my bucket list.

8. Snap a selfie with an old lady smoking a cigar in Old Havana in Cuba

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Why? I have spent hours on google trying to find some information about what the history is behind old women smoking cigars in Cuba. Maybe I am not searching in the right place because I have not been able to source any information. So I think, the best thing for me to do is go there to investigate for myself and of course take a couple of selfies. Cuba has always been one place that has never come off my travel bucket list. The country is rich in history and culture, yet still under communist rules. There is a lot of political unrest in Cuba but despite that, I can not wait to visit and explore the place for myself.

9. Participate in the annual carnival in Trinidad 

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Why? The only place I have played carnival is in the UK, but I know that for me to have a real carnival experience I need to travel to Trinidad and play there. Out of all the countries that I have listed, Trinidad is probably the one I am most desperate to visit. Aside from their annual carnival, the food, the culture and the history alone are reasons to visit this beautiful country. I am not sure when this will happen, I just know that it will and hopefully sooner than I expect.

10. Vist the Disneyland Resort in Paris

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Why? There are so many other things to do in Paris, but visiting Disneyland is top of my list. I have been to Disneyland Florida but I had to ask myself have I really been to Disneyland if I have never been to the in Paris? It just does not sit right with me, so I need to make plans to change this asap. The fact that I can hop on a train to Paris from London makes me feel even more ridiculous for not having done so already, lol. I would definitely do this as a weekender with my Husband or on a cheeky trip to the city with the girls.

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So there you have it, my travel bucket list is forever changing, but these are the countries that I am so keen to visit. Enough about me, what about you, what countries can be found on your Travel bucket list? Let me know in the comments below or let us chat about it on twitter or insta @JennasWorldView.

Also, have you been to any of the countries that I mentioned above, if so tell me how your trip went? I look forward to hearing from you so that you can tell me all about it.

One last thing: If you would like to read my first ever Travel Diary, click here

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Stay Blessed

Lots of Love

Jenna

xoxo