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Christmas Traditions In Barbados

It's food galore for the Bajan festive season!

a snowman on a beach

Across our Caribbean islands, most people agree that Christmas is all about family and food. In Barbados, there are three recipes that always signal the most wonderful time of the year.

'Great Cake' is a staple on Barbadian tables at Christmas, resembling the traditional English Christmas pudding. The secret is to soak a mixture of dried fruits and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in generous amounts of local rum for weeks before baking. Referred to as Black Cake in other islands, this beloved dessert is even the subject of its own Christmas soca song by Trinidadian Sugar Aloes.

Influenced by the Scottish dish Haggis, 'Jug-jug' is a traditional Bajan dish introduced by Scottish immigrants to Barbados in the 17th century. Although there are a few versions of the recipe, Jug-jug is usually made with a combination of pigeon peas or lentils, bacon or pork, hot peppers, beef, onions, chives, rolled oats, and butter.

'Sorrel' is the must-have Christmas drink in Barbados, made from dried sorrel flowers, cloves, orange zest, fresh ginger, sugar and water. Drink it soft or with a splash of local rum. This ruby red drink is perfect for the festive season, and its zesty-spicy flavour matches with every food course.

Other festive customs involve dressing up and being seen! One of the highlights of the season is Carols by Candlelight, which takes place on the manicured grounds of the Prime Minister’s residence. St Nicholas Abbey also hosts Christmas jazz and carol concerts, and at venues up and down the island, you’ll find many events taking place.

Spending Christmas Day morning at Queen’s Park in Bridgetown is another must-do for the season. After church services, crowds of nattily-dressed Bajans gather to socialise and listen to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band performing a well-loved playlist of seasonal music. If you’re in Barbados at Christmas, why not put your glad rags on and join the celebrations?

The festivities continue on Boxing Day when Barbadians head to the historic Garrison Savannah to attend the Barbados Turf Club’s Annual Stakes and Trophy horse races. This is one of the island’s biggest horse-racing events, and has become a traditional part of the Christmas season.

With festive preparations already in full swing and as the lights of the season flicker to life at Ocean Hotels Barbados, we are looking forward to sharing our Barbadian festive traditions with visitors from around the world.

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