Hi all. First time poster here! I am happy to share with you some of my family’s culture.
Although I am from New York (not the city!) I grew up in a different culture than many who lived in the same area as me. My family is from the Caribbean islands. My father is from Grenada while on my mom’s side, they are from Barbados. Due to my family’s background, I grew up learning about West Indian culture and of course American culture. The US is a big place with a lot of different races, ethnicity and culture. Today I will share with you the difference in how me and my family celebrate holidays like Christmas.
Firstly, how do you think Christmas is celebrated in the US? Do you think it’s a romantic date with strawberry shortcake and fried chicken from KFC? If so, I’m sorry to say but that is not the American way of celebrating Christmas. That is a very Japanese way. Now that you know that a date with KFC and Christmas cake is not the American way, I will tell you what is common. In the media, we usually see Christmas being celebrated with lights, a big tree and many presents underneath, a big family meal, mistletoe hanging for people to kiss under, and a nicely lit fireplace with stockings filled with goodies. I believe many people try to emulate this image of Christmas with their own traditions but this isn’t everyone’s way.
Growing up with my family, we had a big Christmas tree but did not have mistletoe. We also had big family meals but not just with our immediate family. We always went to my dad’s sister’s place where we would have a party! After opening presents in the morning with my brother at home, we played with our toys until it was time to get ready to go to my aunt’s. Once we reached my aunt’s place we went straight to the snacks and the kid’s room where the TV was. There we hung out with our cousins and either played board games or video games. Once everyone arrived and it was time to eat, we would all gather to the living room and surround the table to do a prayer. There would usually be about 10 – 20 of us gathered. After we prayed over the food we’d eat the meal which was a mixture of common American dishes and Grenadian food.
What is Grenadian food you may ask? If you ever had Jamaican food it is similar but still quite different. Some dishes you can look up are, Curry Goat, Ox Tail, Roti, Fried Plaintain, Lambie Souse, and boiled provisions. I’m getting hungry as I type all that good food. As everyone finishes eating, my father is usually the one who starts dancing and getting everyone on the dance floor, also known as my aunt’s living room. It is quite a sight to see. He still does this during the holidays till this day! The music we play is a mixture of Soca music from Grenada and Trinidad as well as other Caribbean music. After hours of dancing and playing with my cousins, it gets late and ready to go back home. A few family members stay over at my aunts and enjoy the rest of their holiday break with leftovers. My family would always take some leftovers and go home. The whole experience leaves me feeling warm and full with yummy food.
Have you ever heard of someone celebrating Christmas like this before? If not, I am glad I could share with you how my family celebrates the holidays. I’ve been living in Japan for about 9 years now and do miss these parties but sometimes I can go back during the holidays. This year I was able to go back during Thanksgiving and we had the same kind of celebration. Even though we are no longer kids, we all still dance and play games in the ‘kids’ room. I am looking forward to the next time I can hang out with my family.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!