It can be cold and dreary this time of year in Jersey, so we thought we’d give you a glimpse into a Jamaican Christmas—maybe you can bring da islands to you, mon? Apparently, at Christmas time in Jamaica, lots of people paint their houses, and hang new curtains and decorations. With the family coming over for Christmas dinner, what better time to spruce things up a bit, right? You may not want to paint your house during a Jersey winter, but hanging some stockings and stringing some lights brightens up the short days a bit.
Much like Americans, there’s a lot of food around the holidays, but Jamaicans have one specialty that we hear cannot be missed—Red Wine and Rum Fruit Cake! The fruits in the cake are soaked in red wine and white rum for months (yes, we said months) before the big day, so you know Jamaicans are committed to this holiday favorite. Click here for da recipe.
To wash down the cake, Jamaicans don’t reach for a cup of eggnog, they grab a cup of sorrel. This drink is made from dried sorrel (a meadow plant), cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, ginger, sugar and rum; it’s usually served over ice. For a recipe and how-to video, click here. There are other options to this tasty little drink too—black and white sorrel drink. If you want to surprise your guests with a little unexpected color, use black sorrel—you can guess what the final product will look like, right? But for even more color, try using white sorrel in your traditional beverage concoction! With this recipe you can add food coloring and create any color drink you’d like. Consider a string of Christmas lights and start mixing!
Another Jamaican tradition is Jonkanoo. Jonkanoo is a traditional Christmas celebration which probably came to Jamaica via African slaves. People parade through the streets in brightly colored costumes, and men in white mesh masks usually play the characters of Jonkanoo, such as the horned cow head, policeman, horse head, wild Indian, devil, belly-woman, pitchy-patchy, and sometimes a bride and house head (house carried on the head of a man). Not as popular in the cities as it once was, the tradition still lives in rural areas. More and more though, you’ll see Jonkanoo characters at cultural events rather than randomly parading down streets. The island of Jamaica is credited with having the longest running Jonkanoo tradition.
Looking to shake up your neighborhood Christmas party? Mix up a batch of sorrel or throw together a Jonkanoo costume. We promise everyone will remember you! If you’re thinking that all of these options may take a little more time and energy than you have left this holiday season, drop by Yo Mon in Red Bank for some Yo-to-Go and bring some of that Yo Mon spirit into your holidays. We’ve got lots of your favorite flavors all packaged up and ready to go when you are! Happy holidays, mon!