Tue | Oct 20, 2020

Christmas season of yesteryear

Published:Tuesday | December 22, 2015 | 12:29 PMShanique Samuels
Carmen Codner chuckles as she reminisces on Christmas when she was a child.

It's the Christmas season and many people look forward to the food, fun and festivities that come in abundance at this time of the year. However, it has been noticed that some of the common traditions such as the Jonkonnu parade are no longer a much anticipated event on the Jamaican Christmas calendar.

Carmen Codner was born and raised in Summerfield Clarendon and she shared a few memories from yesteryear with Family and Religion - how it was at Christmastime when she was a young girl.

"At Christmastime, children looked forward to receiving gifts tied up in socks somewhere in the house. Some children would pick up coffee and chocolate (cocoa) and dry it and sell it to earn their Christmas money, which they would use to go to Grand Market.

"As children, we used to looked forward to the Jonkonnu parade that always passed through Chapelton, and when they performed, we would have to give the mascots a coin or they would chase us down, and the children would run," she said with a chuckle.

Codner, who is a well-known elderly citizen in the community, added that Summerfield was a busy town at Christmastime.

"The town hot, man, very busy, and people from Kingston would come down and take over the streets and sell their items and toys. Grand Market was wonderful, everybody dress and come out in their best - women used to wear crinoline or pedal pushers with very tight blouse, and the men used to wear what we called bell-foot pants, and you couldn't tell dem dem nuh well-dressed."


"Big pots with well-prepared meals were a joy for us when we were young." She further explained that "at Christmas, people used to go crazy over gungo and rice, and the sorrel was always drawn, and some people would kill cow and pig and cook right through Grand Market night, and on Christmas Day, they would package a piece of roast pork or a slice of roast beef in a basket and cover it and send it to the neighbours.

The shut-ins would get their little packages specially prepared and delivered to them. We also had black pudding and black cake that was made on an open fire outside."

However, nowadays, she says people see Christmas as just another day (holiday). The young people look forward to partying and enjoying themselves and not so much to indulge in the long-time Christmas traditions and cultures.

"Back then, everything was really nice. Now, nobody naa share. I wish people would come together, if it's even once a year, and experience life and fellowship like we used to do at Christmas. We don't see the Jonkonnu parades anymore, neither do we look out for each other as much as we used to do back then. I still cook for my family, and my grandchildren love the food and look forward to the goodies at Christmas that they don't normally get throughout the year," she said.