Christmas is a very social moment in Trinidad and Tobago with most people having parties.
Both children and adults go from house to house among neighbors and relatives to eat and drink. Radio stations play Christmas carols and Christmas songs from Trinidad, as well as traditional and contemporary Christmas carols from the United States.
A special music of Trinidad, Parang, is also played. Parang is an optimistic hybrid music between Venezuela and Trinidad that is usually sung in Spanish. Now there is also ‘soca parang’ where the songs are sung in English. In the evenings around Christmas, many people like to be ‘Parranderos’ and go from house to house singing Christmas songs. In Parang many different instruments are used, such as guitars and cuatro (a small four-string guitar), violins, maracas (called chac-chacs) and (two blocks of wood known as toc-toc). If you’ve been good at singing, hopefully they’ll give you some food and drink.
Most people paint and make repairs in their homes and hang curtains and new decorations (especially lights) for Christmas. Often, this is the time when most people buy new appliances and furniture. Most families spend Christmas day at home with friends and family.
Christmas day food is usually prepared from mid-December to the new year. Trinibagonian’s traditional Christmas food includes apples and grapes, sorrel, punch-of-creme (a version of eggnog), ham, turkey, homemade bread, ginger ale, cake (a version of tamales) and local wine.
Trinidad’s Christmas cake is traditional and eaten in most homes. Fruits (such as raisins and sultanas) on the cake are usually soaked in cherry wine, sherry and rum for several months before Christmas.
New Year’s Eve is known as the “Ole’s night of the year” in Trinidad, and people love to leave the fireworks to celebrate the arrival of the new year!