Christmas in the Land of Wood and Water

You have decided to escape your harsh winter environment for the Christmas season, or perhaps you just need some downtime. Your bags packed and you are headed to Jamaica. Destination… Beaches Ocho Rios (formerly Beaches Boscobel), an all-inclusive family hotel in the Sandals chain, in Oracabessa St Mary.

This is your ‘home away from home’ and whether you are Jamaican born or a first time visitor, you are family. Team members have an embracing spirit and a smile which says “happy to see you.” There are activities throughout the day and night catering to children at every age, so you can relax knowing that you children are safe and having fun. When the daily Sesame Street parade and party begins, they won’t even miss you. On Christmas Day, naughty or nice, they will all receive presents from Santa.

Christmas time is special at Beaches Ocho Rios. Festivity is in the air with Christmas trees and beautiful decorations everywhere and team members and guests dressed in Santa hats. There is music … lots of it. The Beaches choir performs and teaches you special Reggae infused Christmas carols and the super vibrant entertainment coordinators keep it moving all day with Christmas themed activities. Whether you are participating or observing, it is nonstop fun.

Team members have an embracing spirit and a smile which says “happy to see you.”

Christmas day is like a big family fun day and many visiting Diaspora based Jamaicans, book a day pass to spend it on property. The wait staff is decked out in red jackets and Santa hats and the choir, the elves and Sesame Street characters herald the arrival of Santa, who comes by boat or jet ski.

Food… Part of the Love Language

Food is a big part of the love language of Jamaicans and it is prepared and served with love. At Beaches Ocho Rios, you feel like you have been invited into a Jamaican home for Christmas, with a spread of traditional Jamaican Christmas staples. For breakfast, in addition to the continental offering, there are Jamaican favourites such as ackee and saltfish, mackerel rundown, roast breadfruit, bammy, pear (avocado) and codfish fritters.

Christmas dinner will include gungo (pigeon peas)rice and peas; chicken done in various styles including the famous Jamaican jerk chicken, potato salad and of course, the leg of succulent ham, glazed and garnished with pineapple slices, cloves and cherries. Vegetarians and vegans, no problem, your Beaches Ocho Rios family will ensure that you are well fed.

Jamaican Christmas cake, a dark rich fruit cake is a must have. Raisins, currants, prunes and mixed peel used in the cake, are soaked in red wine and white rum for four to six months. When the cakes are done, they are ‘anointed’ with more spirits and served with a rich creamy rum infused sauce. Tis after all, the season to be merry.

Sorrel drink is made from the unopened buds of the sorrel fruit, which belongs to the hibiscus family.

Sorrel and Egg Nog are the Christmas drinks of choice. Sorrel drink is made from the unopened buds of the sorrel fruit, which belongs to the hibiscus family. The sorrel buds are boiled or steeped in hot water with ginger and pimento, strained and sweetened. While there is an alcohol free child friendly version, for many, sorrel sans alcohol is not sorrel. Egg nog, a blended concoction of eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg, served over cracked ice, is a Christmas Day favourite, enhanced of course with little ‘tups’ of white rum.

Boxing Day

Jamaica has retained the English tradition of Boxing Day, when excess food was boxed and delivered to the less fortunate. Charity aside, across Jamaica Boxing Day is family gatherings, parties and stage shows. At Beaches Ocho Rios, there is nonstop entertainment including the traditional Maypole dance – a Jamaicanized version of a traditional English dance, where participants dance around a pole, while weaving patterns with colourful ribbons. Guests join in, and even if they are clueless, there is fun, laughter, good vibes, and pictures to show when they return home.

Between Christmas day and New Year’s Eve, the party mood continues with the regular nightly entertainment, fun, games and parties culminating in New Year’s Eve celebrations. Children struggle to stay up till midnight and champagne flows freely while adults party and sing Auld Lang Syne. Some go to bed while some stay up to watch the sunrise, do early breakfast and then crash with the smile that says … Christmas in Jamaica rocks

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Joan Andrea Hutchinson is a self-published author with three books and seven CDs on Jamaican culture, a public speaking coach and motivational speaker. A well-respected communications professional with an eclectic skillset including writing, editing, creative conceptualization and hosting/ producing radio and TV programmes, she is passionate about adult literacy and working with marginalized groups. She received the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican Government for her contribution to Jamaican culture, the Sir Shridath Ramphal Award for Cultural Excellence and the Language Ambassador Award from the City College of Birmingham.