November has rolled in and I'm excited because my favourite season is around the corner. In case you haven't guessed, here's a hint: 'it's the most wonderful time of the year'. Yep, Christmas is quickly approaching, and although I've said it before, I'll say it again: I'm excited! There is just something about the festive season, the food, the fun and the fellowship. Christmas in Jamaica is always exceptional. The temperature getting cooler and the flurry of activities makes the season special. There is always something to do during the festive season and today I'm sharing a few activities that can help you make the most of the season.
Decorate Your Space for Christmas
One way to get you into the spirit of Christmas is to put up Christmas decorations. When the holiday season in Jamaica starts, this is typically one of the first things you'll notice. Most public spaces will be beautifully adorned with festive décor and not to mention the creative use of Christmas lights. Decorations have a way of transforming our space and this in turn increases your cheerful mood. You can also explore your creative side by making your decoration. If you do decide to decorate with Christmas lights ensure that you practice energy-saving methods as we are not gifting JPS this season (JPS -Jamaica Public Service is Jamaica's power company).
Attend a Tree Lighting Ceremony
In Jamaica, each parish capital celebrates the lighting of trees with an annual ceremony. It is organized by each parish's Municipal Corporation. In previous years throngs of people would converge at the ceremony's location, which was often one of the municipal parks. Speeches, live entertainment, and of course the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree would all be part of the occasion. Additionally, vendors would be seen peddling goods including jerk chicken, soup, juices, snow cones, children's light-up toys, and vuvuzelas. The last two years would have been different, however as it appears, we have now regained some semblance of normality so I hope this activity will take place this year.
Donate to Charity
Giving is a virtue we should cultivate daily, and the Christmas season is the ideal time to do it. Christmas is dubbed the 'Season of Giving' and this is because there is usually an uptick in charity and outreach programmes. Donating to charity is one way to ensure that others who are less fortunate experience the joy of Christmas. There are numerous ways to donate to charity in Jamaica. There are various charities and drives awaiting your support. The beauty of donating to charity is that it can be in cash or kind so any contribution you make will be helpful.
Attend a Church Service
Going to church at Christmastime is an ongoing tradition in Jamaica. The holiday season is the one time of year when the majority of Jamaicans will make an effort to go to church. Attending a church service can be a lovely way to incorporate some holiday cheer into your celebrations even if you are not religious.
Sample Seasonal Treats
This is a must-do activity for the festive season. In Jamaica, food plays a major role in the festivities. The Jamaican Christmas/fruit cake and the sorrel drink are seasonal favourites. Even the toughest diets allow room for sorrel and Christmas cake. A few eateries may additionally offer seasonal menu items in addition to the holiday staples. One such seasonal delight is the sorrel-flavoured ice cream that Devon House I-Scream offers every year. Go restaurant hopping to satisfy your inner foodie and savour the seasonal goodies on offer. Who knows, if you enjoy doing it, you could decide to make it a Christmas tradition.
Spending time with family is a crucial part of the Christmas celebration in Jamaica. The holiday season is when the majority of Jamaicans host their family reunions and where there is a family gathering there is bound to be food. Christmas is the perfect time to visit and catch up with those faraway relatives who you don't see often.
Go to the Beach
No Jamaican holiday is complete without a trip to the beach. Local beaches are typically crowded with locals and visitors throughout the holiday season. Heading to the beach is a fun way to celebrate the season. You get to spend time with your loved ones while getting your fill of the much need needed vitamins sun, sand and sea. This is one of my favourite things to do over the holidays. Consider going before or after Christmas Day and Boxing Day to escape the crowds.
Binge Watch Christmas Movies
Watching Christmas movies around the holidays is a must, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. While growing up I remember staying up with my siblings to watch whichever fun Christmas movie was aired on one of the two local TV stations. Sometimes if we were lucky we would catch some really good ones like Home Alone or Elf. Technology advancements have made it easier than ever to access holiday classics, making Christmas movie marathons more convenient This is a fantastic solo activity that also doubles as a family activity.
Organize a Pixie Gift Exchange
A Pixie is a Jamaican term for Secret Santa. This is a pleasant and hassle-free method to give and receive presents from friends, family, and coworkers. It's easy to organize a Pixie; simply write down everyone's names on separate pieces of paper, mix them up, and then ask each person to choose one name from the pile while keeping the identity of the person they choose a secret. The next step is for each participant to treat the person whose name they choose to a small present each day while keeping their identity a secret until the last day of gifting. Giving a budget is always preferable so that nobody feels cheated on the last day.
Bonus - Hike to the Peak of the Jamaican Blue Mountains
I've been wanting to do this for quite some time. At 2,256 meters above sea level, Blue Mountain Peak is Jamaica's highest point. I've read and heard that seeing the sunrise from Blue Mountain Peak is something you should put on your bucket list, and after watching the movie "How to Be Single," I agree that seeing the sunrise on New Year's Day from the peak would be an unforgettable experience. If you enjoy the outdoors and are up for the task, I highly recommend hiking to the peak.
Christmas is a time to unwind, think, socialize, bond, and spend time with the people you care about. The season is also a time to show love and support those in need. But the most crucial thing is to keep in mind why the season exists. No matter how you choose to celebrate the holiday, strive to enjoy it to the fullest and create lasting memories.
What activities are must dos for you during the holidays? Tell me in the comments below.
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