I have been asked many questions about where I am from, Guyana. And most times the answers to those questions require much thinking as I sometimes have no idea of how to solve them. However, during this festive holiday season, I get asked the easiest question “What do you miss about Christmas in your home country?”.
While there is no doubt that Christmas here beside the fireplace is lovely as everyone I have spoken with at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus has not hesitated to share how much joy the snow brings them. Perhaps, I find this easy as I think about this every year, and then get to experience a smaller version of it with my friends from Guyana that live here. So through my final blog post for this semester, my Christmas gift to you is this post, in which I share a bit more about myself and where I am from.
What is Christmas like in my home country?
Guyana, a small South American country between Venezuela and Suriname, is known for its warm hospitality. During the Christmas season, this becomes more evident as natives extend welcomes while fulfilling the true Christmas spirit of love and sharing. What is unique about a Guyanese Christmas is the fusion of faith and culture.
This Christian holiday which celebrates the birth of Christ is celebrated by all groups that are part of the fabric of Guyana. Young and old, rich and poor, all observe the old traditions of the holiday by keeping the house spotlessly clean and sharing meals and drinks with neighbours. During the holiday season, there are three holidays (Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Years Day) and the entertainment never stops. There are street fairs, Christmas carolling on horse-drawn carts through neighbourhoods, home decorating with fairy lights contests and hundreds of club and house parties. There is also the food which as Prichep in her article on NPR here states gives a whole new meaning to slow cooked food. Here are two music videos by Guyanese Soca artist Slingshot that show how the holiday season is celebrated.
What do I miss about Christmas in my home country?
So, I told you about the hospitality, faith, food, and culture of a Guyanese Christmas and while I miss all of these, I would honestly have to say the thing that I miss the most about Christmas in my home country is …the HEAT!
Yes, you read that correctly, I miss the heat. Snow is all nice and cute and fun for a bit to roll around in and build snowmen, but I miss that sunshine beaming on my feet as I walk barefoot around the yard. As I pack my winter coats for my Christmas weekend in New York as I write this post right now, I miss not having to bundle up with clothing to go out for a night of shenanigans! I miss being able to sip on a rum and coconut water drink- outside, under the blue sky!
I realise that many of you cannot imagine what Christmas in the sunshine feels like because all you have ever known is a Christmas in the cold, trying to keep warm by the fireplace. I can only hope that my words helped you to imagine what it feels like. If I could have one Christmas wish, it would be to take you to Guyana with me, as there is no Christmas like a Guyanese Christmas!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy holiday season to read my post and for your support over the semester. My next post will be in February so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the season (Happy Holidays, Happy New Years, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, etc). And until next time, stay safe! Feel free to drop me a line saying what you enjoy most about the holiday season.