DISCOVER HOW ANTIGUANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
Auntie Esther, a cultural activist known for her cooking skills and community work, and the folks at King George V, the community and sporting centre at the entrance of Grays Green, are bringing back the ole time Antiguan Christmas this weekend.
“It’s always been in my head to bring it back,” Auntie Esther said. “It’s the old time Christmas…emphasizing the food.” The plan is to make it an annual thing. Between the carolers with flambeaus and seasonal cheer and various masqueraders, there was never a dull moment in the thick of the season back in the day. Liquor – Falernum, Rich Ruby (sorrel and ginger beer for those who favoured something softer) – flowed, and the simmering scents suffused every home.
Stew pork and yard fowl, not today’s turkey, were the meats of choice; the pork seasoned overnight and slow cooked over a low fire on a coal pot with “green paw paw” to soften, cloves for flavour, and cucumbers and other odds and ends “to sweeten it up”. Rice and pigeon peas, fried dumplings, plus “a slice of yam, a slice of sweet potato, a slice of green fig on the side” completed the menu. Auntie Esther and crew will be bringing back the tastes of the season at the Saturday 11th December Christmas fair; with local fare like bambula (cassava bread), maybe a ball of fungi with the stew pork, plain cake, Antiguan ice cream, and grease bread – with area bakers competing for the Prime Minister’s prize.
Don’t forget to sample Auntie Esther’s “venedarlush” – a pork dish with the meat typically left to marinate for months, as much as a year.
Proceeds benefit King George V projects so come get your “bellyful” then kick back with a game of warri or cards while the iron band and steel pan play and the highlanders and John Bull dance; just like they used to once upon a Christmas. Admission is free and the fun begins at 2 p.m.
WHAT’S ON FOR CHRISTMAS
If it leaves you hankering for things Antiguan, not to worry; the first ever Home, Families and Gardens Community Festival, set for December 18th at Mock Pond in All Saints, will take you back in time to the days of coal pot lighting, singing meeting, needle and thread racing, piconging , yabba dumpling and more. Now that’s a true all day affair 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Don’t feel like stepping back in time? There’s still plenty to do this Christmas:
• Snorkelling, kayaking, wakeboarding, zip lining, raft building, treasure hunts, and other adventures for kids at the Antigua Yacht Club’s ‘Fun Camp’ or the equally fun ‘Playlist’ at Swalings
And on Christmas Day, the famous Champage Party in Nelson's Dockyard is a must do - a meeting of families, friends and visitors from all around the area, drinking, live music and dancing is order of the day. Starts from midday, ends when the last man (or woman) falls!