Christmas in the Caribbean is celebrated in a variety of unique and interesting ways. There are special foods and celebrations, each tied to local traditions.
You’ll hear American carols, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano and traditional posada songs.
Jamaicans celebrate by going to church, exchanging gifts with their families, and gathering for a large meal. Dinner on Christmas Day, the biggest feast for Jamaicans, includes (of course) curry goat, and rice and gungo peas. Gungo peas usually ripen in December, and are a Christmas specialty for Jamaica, .
In this country located just off South America, the Venezuelan “parang music” adds a lively beat as neighbors travel from house to house to serenade holiday gatherings.
Like in Trinidad, in this Caribbean country that border Haiti, groups of singers stroll through the neighborhood singing traditional Dominican folk songs about Christmas.
The French Caribbean
The Christmas season continues to be celebrate until Three Kings’ Day, or Epiphany, on January 6. This day commemorates “les Rois”, or the coming of the Three Wise Men and is the day when people in the French Caribbean take down their Christmas trees.
The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos’ neighbor to the northwest, is famous for celebrating Junkanoo on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas observed in many Commonwealth countries, including Turks and Caicos), where masked revelers sing, dance, and drum their way through town streets in an exuberant parade.
In fact, Turks and Caicos has its own version of Junkanoo, which we call Maskanoo.
Celebrating Christmas in Turks and Caicos
The holiday season lasts for at least a month in Turks and Caicos. This means that there is almost always something for your family to do on your vacation here.
Besides the Christmas trees and colorful lights, there are events occurring from late November to early January.
Conch Festival (November 25th)
Every November, the island of Providenciales hosts the Turks and Caicos Conch Festival – a celebration of the islands’ national symbol and top export. This large shellfish has always played an integral role in local cuisine, which they now share with the world.
This year the the Conch Festival starts on November 25th. This is the official kickoff of the Christmas season, with a visit from Santa for the children. Learn more about the Conch Festival.
Christmas Day in Turks and Caicos
Our resort typically decorates a spectacular Christmas trees that greets you when you arrive in the resort. There will be decorations around the resort as well, adding to the festive atmosphere. Many restaurants offer a special Christmas dinner service.
Maskanoo Parade (December 26th)
Maskanoo is an annual event in the Turks and Caicos and is held “Boxing Day”, the day after Christmas (a holiday in Commonwealth countries like the Turks and Caicos).
Maskanoo has its roots in the ‘Masses’, a masquerade tradition that fuses traditional African culture with costumed balls from the colonial era. Observed by the residents of Provo today, Maskanoo originated with enslaved people brought to work nearby salt ponds two hundred years ago.
Here on Provo, the Maskanoo parade on December 26th travels along Grace Bay Road between the Regent Village and Salt Mills Plaza. Grace Bay Road is closed to traffic for this event.
Food, drink and souvenirs are widely available from local vendors, and visitors can enjoy a street parade, local music, island food, arts, & entertainment.
Post-Christmas Beach Party
Two days after Maskanoo, Post-Christmas Beach Party is held on December 28th, right on Grace Bay Beach. This annual event features live music, stalls selling authentic local “comfort food”, and other events.
New Year’s Eve and “Old Year’s Night”
In Turks and Caicos, New Year’s Eve traditionally begins with an island tradition called Old Year’s Night. On Provo, locals typically attend church services in the evening, and church bells ring out to bring good luck into the New Year.
At midnight, fireworks are set off on the beach to welcome the New Year.