According to records Christmas was first observed in Trinidad in 1569. The festival was celebrated by six priests of the order of Observantines headed by Fr. Miguel Diosdados (Reyes). They visited several villages and were treated to local cuisine.
Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago is a very joyous occasion.
Families commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ by going to church. For many, this means an annual pilgrimage to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate Midnight Mass. Christmas is also a memorable event that is celebrated by large gatherings of families and friends.
Sumptuous meals are prepared, and visitors are invited to partake of the feast. These visitors include not only friends and family, but also those groups of people who go from house to house serenading the members of the home within indigenous Spanish carols, known as Parang.
These groups, similar to European and American carollers, are called Paranderos, and they sing traditional Parang songs. They trek through neighborhoods, evoking the spirit of the season with joyful melodies and infectious rhythms. The cuatro, bass box, mandolin, ‘chac-chac’ (maracas), flutes, tambourines, guitar, and other instruments are all used to accompany the Paranderos. The vibrant rhythms of Parang music encourage one and all to sing along. The Paranderos are rewarded for their performances with Christmas food & drink offered by the host of the house.
Traditional food served at Christmas time consists of generous helpings of ham, turkey, pastelles, fruit cake, sweetbreads, and other selected delicacies, along with traditional drinks such as sorrel, ginger beer, and ponche de crème.
Christmas is a very important time in Trinidad & Tobago. It is the fusion of the end of year excitement while ushering the imminent carnival season. It is a time when loved ones gather to reminisce on the past year while celebrating the presence of each other. It is a time of food and drinks, music and celebration, and peace and love, as the birth of Christ, is honoured and celebrated.