The Yuletide season is, of course, a Christian event. Now, there is no certainty that Jesus was born on December 25 of whatever year but it is the day Christianity celebrates his birth. Indeed, I was quite surprised to read some years ago that more greeting cards are sent at Eastertide in the US than at Christmastime. But surely there can be no death and resurrection without a birth!
I have spent the past few columns reminiscing on days gone by. That said, ‘twas the night before Christmas that many Christians went to church at midnight to usher in the holy remembrance. Even Hollywood used to respect the occasion in that every year there were appropriate movies for the season such as Irving Berling’s musical Holiday Inn, starring the old crooner Bing Crosby and the film debut of the immortal song White Christmas. Yet my favourite Christmas tune is still Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song. It begins: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/ Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”
The Christmas menu was also seasonal and when cargo ships docked, crates upon crates of apples were hurriedly cleared, still cold, and the vendors would quickly sell them in crowded Frederick Street. In fact, they were only imported at Christmas time! Hard to believe also, it was the only time when we cooked a ham studded with cloves, and made sorrel, ginger beer, pastelles, punch-de-crème and black cake (with varying measures of rum). They all “made the season bright” and ever so special.