Trade the Pure White Snow and a Pine Tree for Warm White Sand Beaches and Palm Trees During Your Tropical Christmas
“Lights are blowing from the palm trees, stockings hanging from the mast. Santa riding on a dolphin, don’t you want to make it last. It’s Christmas in the Caribbean.” – Jimmy Buffett, “Christmas in the Caribbean”
In 1996, Jimmy Buffett brought a tropical Christmas to life with his hit “Christmas in the Caribbean.” He was not the first to trade in snow for sand during the holidays, and he certainly won’t be the last. Shoveling icy slush in biting winds grows quickly tiresome, as do days that are short and bleak and nights that are dark and long. With Christmas and New Year’s so close together, the holiday season is the perfect time to gather-up friends and family and head for the tropics to create a new holiday tradition.
The best part of a holiday trip to the tropics? Many cultures rich in island tradition hold holiday festivals and many encourage participation of visitors from around the world. This is a great time of year to experience the cultural diversity found in the Caribbean and Latin and Central America and to celebrate and shed inhibitions, even for a moment, during this wonderful time of year. If you choose not to dance and celebrate, it will not be for lack of opportunity. Luxury Living International has located the new winter wonderlands in paradise.
Bursting with music and festivity, St. Kitts is a fantastic place to experience a blend of celebrations. The St. Kitts National Carnival, a two-week festival starting on Dec.18, is a mix of African, European and regional influences resulting in a lively display of unique folklore and tradition. A conglomeration of celebrations including art, dance, poetry and drama, Carnival is a fun-filled event that runs through New Year’s. Revelers fill the streets to enjoy elaborate displays that comprise the heart of the festival with Masquerade, Mocko-Jumbies and clowns entertaining the crowds. The Masquerade is a showcase of dancers in intricate headdresses, while the Mocko-Jumbies are stilt-walkers that dance about in brightly colored costumes. The Bull is a comedic interpretation of an incident from the early 1900′s involving an errant prize bull running wild through the streets. A more traditional Christmas is revealed through music. Steel and brass drum bands add a Caribbean sound to carols as throngs of gospel choirs sing in downtown Basseterre. A jubilant experience for locals and visitors alike, Carnival in St. Kitts combines exuberant festivities with the Christmas holiday, something to provide a different “flair” to the typical, more traditional festivities.
Beach parties, private light displays and homecoming gatherings prove that there is something to help everyone find the holiday spirit in The Grand Cayman Islands. Traditionally the season was a time for sailors to return home from their nomadic lives aboard shipping vessels. Native Islanders would create their own “White Christmas” by piling sand for weeks-on-end into backyards until finally, on Christmas Eve, the piles were swept flat so that the entire yard was white and undisturbed. Tradition required that the sand not be walked on until Christmas Day and, even today, there are yards of white sand that still exist to keep the tradition alive. Church is central to the Cayman interpretation of Christmas, as well as holiday songs and poetry. Santa and Christmas Trees made their way to the Caymans in the early 1900′s and have been a mainstay ever since, the main difference being that Santa arrives via boat instead of sleigh. The Cayman locals have embraced the spirit of Christmas decor. Their increasingly extravagant “Griswold” light displays will make any traveler feel at home.
Festival, the biggest party of the year in Montserrat, takes place in December, the highlight of which is Christmas Week. Festival runs from Dec. 4 until New Years Day. Dedicated to celebration, Christmas Week is a culmination of a number of fun-filled activities. The Miss Festival Queen Pageant, a Calypso King Competition and musical extravaganzas comprise some of the events, as well as caroling on Christmas day. The origin of the festival lies in the history of plantation life, when slaves would get three days off to celebrate Christmas. Since the abolition of slavery, the three-day festival has grown into a month-long jubilee, ending on New Year’s Day. Visitors flock to Montserrat for the yearly festival, even more so now that flights from Antigua have become available to make travel that much easier.
Costa Rica is home to one of the most traditional Christmas celebrations in the region. Children are on a month-long break from school, and all working adults receive their mandatory end-of-year bonus. There are three Christmas parades; El Carnival with dancers and musical groups from all across the country, El Tope, a parade of show horses and decorative hand-painted ox carts, and the favorite, El Festival de Luzes, a nighttime parade filled with thousands of decorative lights. Many of the floats in the Festival de Luzes feature fluffy white decorations to imitate snow. Toros a la Tica, or bull fighting, is also a favorite tradition for many native Costa Ricans, and gringo visitors or residents are encouraged to participate in all festivities. Christmas is celebrated with fervor, and feasts are prepared for days and enjoyed well into the nights. They finally end on Jan. 6, symbolizing the arrival of the three wise men.
The British Virgin Islands are a perennial favorite for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, with plenty of fantastic parties. Celebrations include feasting and caroling as well as a unique and native “Christmas” tree. Known as a Fishing Rod Tree, the tall succulent plant blooms in April and by December has seed pod clusters that are decorated silver to add to the aura of the celebration. Spiced Guavaberry rum is the traditional drink, and streets are filled with calypso and reggae music as shoppers hunt for last minute gifts. In anticipation of New Year’s, yachts jostle for prime anchorages. It’s hard to go wrong and the weather and winds are, typically, ideal
Last-minute travel deals mean it’s never too late to plan a Christmas abroad. Start a new tropical holiday tradition searching for sleigh tracks in the sand on a beautiful sunny beach this Christmas morning. Why not start 2010 tanned, refreshed and the envy of the town!