Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 The Christmas story
 About Christmas
 Christmas in the 1890's
 Christmas in the nineteen-twen...
 Christmas on a sugar estate
 Christmas in 1935
 Christmas in New Amsterdam
 Music at Christmas
 Food and drink
 Christmas in Montserrat
 Christmas in Grenada
 Christmas in Jamaica
 Christmas in Suriname

Title: Kyk-over-Al
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080046/00014
 Material Information
Title: Kyk-over-Al
Uniform Title: Bim
Alternate Title: Kyk over Al
Physical Description: v. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: British Guiana Writers' Association
Kykoveral (Guyana)
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Georgetown Guyana
Publication Date: -2000
Frequency: two no. a year
Subject: Guyanese literature -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Caribbean literature (English) -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: review   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Guyana
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began in 1945?
Dates or Sequential Designation: -49/50 (June 2000).
Numbering Peculiarities: Publication suspended, 19 -1983.
Issuing Body: Issued by: British Guiana Writers' Association, 1945-19 ; Kykoveral, 1985-
General Note: Vol. for Apr. 1986 called also golden edition that includes anthology of selections from nos. 1-28 (1945-1961).
General Note: Description based on: No. 30 (Dec. 1984); title from cover.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080046
Volume ID: VID00014
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 12755014
lccn - 86649830
issn - 1012-5094

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Advertising 1
        Advertising 2
        Advertising 3
        Advertising 4
        Advertising 5
        Advertising 6
        Advertising 7
        Advertising 8
        Advertising 9
    Table of Contents
        Page 207
        Page 208
    The Christmas story
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
    About Christmas
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
    Christmas in the 1890's
        Page 215
        Page 216
    Christmas in the nineteen-twenties
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
    Christmas on a sugar estate
        Page 222
    Christmas in 1935
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
    Christmas in New Amsterdam
        Page 232
        Page 233
    Music at Christmas
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
    Food and drink
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
    Christmas in Montserrat
        Page 244
    Christmas in Grenada
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
    Christmas in Jamaica
        Page 248
    Christmas in Suriname
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
Full Text

G uianee at
the i

--I Maqucrndes


-Menuis I


- Music

Vol. 6 No. 21.



Wam, Y,. t1 og

3iN I. Assrr

Try this test and see!

Watch each member of your family read the Guiana
Graphic. You may be surprised. For you'll find
Junior scanning general news as well as comics,
your wife reading sports as well as the women's
page, and you may turn to the gossip column. Yes,
there's lots of cross over" reading in every
family, and this means planning and editing your
Guiana Graphic to please everyone. Every story, on
Page 12 as well as page one, must be easily
understood, accurate and interesting. The Guiana
Graphic knows this. That's why it's the paper
that is written to be under-
Make the stood by everybody.


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Edited by


Vol. 6 No. 21

Year-End, 1955.

48 Cents



The Christmas Story

About Christmas

Christmas in B.G
1920 (Sugar Estate) ..


Remember ?
What do Guianese ab

United Kin




Luke 2 ii 1-20 .. 209


.A. L .. .215
.P. H. Daly .. 217

.. L. H. C. Phillips 222
.Winifred McDavid 223

road remember ?

I V. B. .. .. 225
>gdom .. ( Frank Pilgrim .. 226
SRonald Lovell .. 227
I Barbara de Weever 227
) Vivi Thorne .. 228
Lewine Robinson 229
.Edgar Mittelholzer 231

Christmas in Berbice

Music at Christmas ..
Steel Band Magic

. Edith Peters

Lynerte Dolphin
.V. Jones

.. Luoille Fraser .. 238

Food and Drink ..


Chrislmas in Neighbouring Lands

Games .. .
Answers to ..

T. McDowell .
J. A. Marryshaw
Aileen Fraser ..
Albert Helman

.. 251

Creole Tableau .. .. .. R. Henry .. 253
Breathe .. .. .. .. AJ.S. .. .. 255
Card .. .. .. .. AJ.S. .. .. 255

Linocuts by E. R. Burrowes

Contributions and all letters should be sent to the Editor "Kyk-
Over-Al", 23, North Road, Bourda, Georgetown, British Guiana.

The Editor wishes to acknowledge the valuable
assistance and co-operation of Joy Allsopp
in the planning and preparation of this Special
Christmas Edition.

The Christmas Story

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree
from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. This
taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into
Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because
he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary
his espoused wife being great with child. And so it was, that,
while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should
be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped
Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there
was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the
field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel
of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone
around about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel
said unto them:-

Fear not:
For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
Which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
Which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.


And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God, and saying:-

Glory to God in the Highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into
heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even
unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which
the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste,
and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying
which was told them concerning this Child. And all they that
heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the
shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them
in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising
God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told
unto them.

Luke ii; 1-20.

The Nativity


About Christmas

The everlasting story of Christmas as Dr. Luke tells it is a
reminder of the source and the limits of our attitude towards this
Season. Very swiftly now, let us leap the centuries and skip across
from Bethlehem at the Holy Birth to British Guiana in the middle
of the 20th Century.
The spirit of Christmas in Guiana between the covers of a
slim but special issue of Kyk Overal that is the task we set
ourselves. Perhaps the historian's way would have been to write
successive chapters based on a social history of Guiana, beginning
with the slaves on the plantations and their peering through the
windows of logies at their Dutch masters observing the traditional
Christian customs (perhaps Edgar Mittelholzer will have a chapter
somewhere, depicting this scene in his engaging style).
The historian would deal with the activities of the mulatoes,
and the free coloured families and then would come to Emancipa-
tion. He would describe the growth of the comfort and wealth
of the Guianese "middle class", their adoption of the Christian
tradition, and so stretch his documentation over the decades.
But the poet-novelist has another way of dealing, with this
matter. He will say that there is a community-Christmas memory
built up of the memories of the people who have lived in British
Guiana, and he will turn to the living cells of these folk memories
in the minds of Guianese themselves. Let them tell in their) own
words the autobiography of the Guianese Christmas; let them use
their own phrases and display their own emotions and nostalgic
memories. Let us hear the accents of the voices of Guianese at
home and Guianese abroad. How far back do they go? As far
as the memory of our eldest contributor 1895. From how far
abroad do they range into British Guiana to link with the Central
memories? From America and London, from Barbados and
Are these Guianese Christmas memories of a special kind -
are they unique? To test this, we invited friends of ours to tell
us how this Christmas spirit manifests itself in neighboring lands
- in the West Indian islands and in Surinam.
When all is said and done, Christmas is always a contemporary
event, and the contemporary memories predominate in this little
B.G. Christmas Anthology because the present is always altering
our attitude to the past celebrations of this particular Season.
Or perhaps it is the early memories of Christmas that matter
most for children, and we are at this season child-like in our
attitude to the recurring birth of this Holy Child. However,


S paradoxically, we look back as we look forward and we see with
regret that the celebrations of the Season are gradually losing
their family character, and that organised commercial and
secular activities seem to be gradually invading the home.
These are the backgrounds of community customs against
which the Anthology is prepared. What now are the family habits
in British Guiana when we prepare for Christmas?
When the Christmas candlefly starts to blossom white in
October, then in a few weeks turns russet brown against the still
cloudless, pale blue sky, diligent early shoppers start making lists
of Christmas cards to be written and presents to be selected. But
when the first showers of rain come in November, preparations for
Christmas start in eannest. And when the dismal December rains
make everything look worse than it really is, make the paint on
the white houses look dingy, and make the children catch colds,
all the housewives take stock. They look with suddenly critical
eyes at the cobwebs in the ceiling and the scratched furniture
and last year's curtains. There is much activity in every home,
S and husbands compare notes with each other about the horrors
of 'spring' cleaning which precedes Christmas as inevitably as
debt follows it.
But here in British Guiana, it is not our way to dwell on
the unpleasant yesterday or tomorrow. Let Christmas be gay!
Having spring cleansed all the cobwebs from our homes and the
bitterness from our hearts, and having given and received the
promise of peace and goodwill, we clothe ourselves in our brightest
garments and express our happiness in the compelling gaiety of
the masquerade band, the steel bana, or how we will -
There is a great restlessness in the air. Every evening finds
crowds of people walking the wet pavements on Water Street, the
children breathing heavily on the glass of the show windows as
they gaze in looking at the unbelievable array of dolls and toys
and Father Christmas and glittering, winking Christmas trees.
On the way home from window-shopping, weary feet in damp
shoes feel lighter as the tiny fairy lights wink from every window
and one catches tantalising glimpses of beautifully decorated
Christmas trees. And in every home there is Christmas music.
With all the radios in one block tuned loudly to the same station,
as one walks along the street there is a continuous and generous
outpouring of "Glo-o-o-o-o-ria in Excelsis Deo".
At last all the presents are bought, wrapped and delivered,
the cakes are baked with rum-soaked fruit, the home-made wine
is bottled off and put ready, the house is clean and fresh with new
curtains at the windows. On Christmas Eve, poor Father Christ-
mas having 'come' to every store in Georgetown, also every fair
and children's party, makes his most important yet invisible
appearance during the mysteriousness of Christmas Eve night,
and Christmas morning finds the children's stockings (we used to


hang pillowcases in our family) full of nuts and sweets and that
most-hoped-for article.

At last also, the poor housewife, reinforced by older members
of the family who are "spending" Christmas day, produces, in
spite of the bedlam created by the children, that special dinner
which has been planned so long before the cabbage soup, the
turkey, ham, pepperpot and roast beef, with baked potatoes and
fried yellow plantains, and later apples dates, raisins, nuts and
sweets. The meal is over, the crackers pulled, the puzzles done,
the jokes read, and with paper hats still on, the family continues
to have fun together, for this is essentially a day for staying at

The time for visiting begins with Boxing Day, when every-
body visits everyone else, somehow finding people at home, and
friends offer and accept a piece of Christmas cake and glass of
wine, for does not each new piece of cake eaten ensure a month's
happiness in the New Year?

And so another Christmas has come and gone, and we fold
the bright crackling bits of paper to be used again next year, if
we can find them then, and on Twelfth Night we take down the
decorations, strip the Christmas trees, and with a sigh of relief
that it is all over, yet with a joyousness remaining in the heart,
we store everything away and gladly face the New Year.


Christmas in the 1890's

In the years before 1895, Christmas in British Guiana was
celebrated in certain middle-class coloured, families as a season of
great rejoicing, beginning with the services of Thanksgiving. The day
was reserved for the home.

Families always began the day with going to church and where
possible, taking the sacrament of Holy Communion.

In St. Philip's Church where I used to attend, on Christmas
Day you could be sure of seeing whole families seated in their
rows father, mother and children. I can remember the Willie
Farnums, Samuel Augustus Campbell, and family, D. M. Hutson,
the Bunburys. You could also see in church the English families
set out in their row, like the Duncans, the Bayleys, the Major
Alexanders, the Bugles seated under Rev. Canon Harry Castell
with Mr. W. R. Colbeck the well-known musician at the organ.
Sometimes the families came to other services earlier in the day
in pairs and groups but the main service of the day was the 11
o'clock Christmas Service attended by as many as possible.

On Christmas Day, Georgetown was a city of bell ringing. The
Church bells used to vie with each other pealing out and calling
the worshippers to service. The services were heralded and people
came to them.

I remember we lived then on Brickdam. We lived there from
1888 to 1907, a few doors from Smith Memorial Church near to
Mr. S. A. Culpepper. It was a red road in those days made from
red brick, and I remember that our family of 5 or 6 went walking
through the hot midday sun to St. Philip's. Sometimes we drove in
the carriages of those days.

After the service was over, we returned home as every family
did, for the family festivities. The great delicacy at that time in
our home was the young roasted suckling pig as the central dish
with chicken and ham. To drink we had pepper punch, sorrel, fly
as home made brews with other drinks like champagne, gin,
whisky and little rum. Rum was not served as readily as it is
served in these days, and cocktails were unknown. To this family
dinner, generally in the middle of the day, a few choice friends
would be invited, a meal which might last from half past one or
two to half past four and five.

At the dinner there would be speech making, exchanging of
good wishes and repartee and after we rose from table we would


have carol singing. My brother and sisters being musicians we
would join with them in carols of their selection.

Then about 4 or 5 o'clock we would entertain a special com-
pany of masqueraders. The custom was for a particular masquerade
club to send in advance of the day, a card announcing that they
would pay a visit on that day and would the Lawrences be pleased
to receive them. We would receive more than one invitation from
these clubs and about 5 in the afternoon, carriages would draw up
outside the house in the red brick road and send in their cards.
Could they be received? We would say yes, then the masked
visitors would come in. Some would be dressed according to a
historical period in some European countries, with queens and all
their retinue. In one of the carriages there would be their own
band, complete with instruments.

They would entertain us first with songs and recitation and
their dances (say a waltz and some other restrained piece, like a
minuet). Once a group danced a quadrille, if I remember well.

Then they would be served with refreshments. Some one of the
group would get up and make a speech of thanks, and then they
would all bow themselves out of the home. They then go to another
house on their calling list and we would await the call of the next
band or group; some were of lesser standing than others but all
who came behaved themselves properly. Of course there were
bands and groups who behaved badly but somehow we never had

Brickdam was the special district in those days. The Cressalls,
the Abrahams, Mrs. James, all lived on Brickdam and so did J. B.
Woolford (at one time Mayor) the lawyer Murdoch, Dr. Wallbridge,
Mr.Glennie and also there was the well known Cockett School.
Mrs. James then housed the young ladies educational establishment
which later became Woodbine House School, later run by Mrs.
Vyfhuis, now part of our history as Bishops' High School.

Walking in these days is a neglected exercise but people in
those days used Brickdam as a promenade either on foot or in
their carriages, driving along to the Botanic Gardens and around
to the Sea Wall. At one time it was a very famous street. On race
days, Brickdam was ablaze with the gentry in their carriages and
dog carts trotting along to the horse races.

S Christmas in the Nineteen-


When one says that Dickens invented the English Christmas,
one does not mean, of course, that he created the many forms and
symbols with which Christmas Day has ever since been sensuously
- as against spiritually enjoyed. Iu Pickwick Papers he gave
us the exuberant Christmas of Dingley Dell; and in the Christmas
Carol, one of his five famous books on Christmas, he drew the
paradox which is the keystone of Christmas itself: that one has
reason for mirth even though one lives in squalor, provided one's
heart is warm. He gave us the paradox of Ebenezer Scrooge, who
thought Christmas a nuisance, yet fell under its magical spell.

Dickens did not create the traditional forms and symbols of
the English Christmas, which, indeed, had been lying in disdan
and disarray, with the stigma of Saturnalian opprobrium, long be-
fore he was born. These forms and symbols of the English Christ-
mas yule logs, holly and mistletoe boughs, turkey and goose,
plum pudding blazing blue with lighted brandy, pantomimes and
harlequins, the Christmas Oratorio pealing from a snowbound
church are older than Christianity itself. One recalls for the
criticism which I shall make later on the tendency of West Indian.
novelists to be ashamed of their survivals, and their failure to find
pleasure in proletariat idiosyncrasy at Christmastime-that many
of these forms and symbols are survivals of the great Roman feast
of Saturnalia, which was celebrated at the time of the year which
is our Christmastime, and in which women dressed as men and
men as women, and the slaves were the masters, and the masters
the slaves. Dickens sublimated these survivals, as an art-form,
and made them acceptable by the Ebenezer Scrooges who controlled
the new, urbanised and utilitarian civilization which was sweep-
ing over nineteenth-century England. By the peculiar brio of his
genius, he succeeded in making them reasonably imperishable.
The Comic Dickens found what no West Indian novelist has yet
found pleasure in proletariat idiosyncrasy at Christmastime. Or
is it that the West Indies have not yet produced humorous novelists
with the appetite to enjoy comic stunts like Mother Sally and the
centipede band? Novelists to extend the function of the novel to
rescuing our ancestral West Indian Christmas from decay; to make
Christmas, as an art-form, a time of historic harlequinade and moral

Because of this convention of neglect by West Indian novelists
-this ghost of the parvenu in the West Indian novel one fears


that the ancestral West Indian Christmas is in danger of decay.
One sees, with dismay, a cracking and splintering of the social
mould of the nineteen-twenties, on which one's ancestral Christmas
had been cast. One suspects that this convention of neglect is
due to the nimbus of national consciousness which surrounds the
heads of some West Indian novelists, putting them, many of whom
are from working-class families, on their guard against showing
any appetite for proletariat idiosyncrasy, or any sympathy for our
ancestral survivals. And the vanishing Guianese Christmas, as
an ancestral institution, is built largely on proletariat foundations.
Any public notice of such an institution by some of our novelists
becomes an affront to national ambitions and West Indian nation.
hood. It is like a 'newly-rich scullery-maid snobbing a poor rela-
tion. It is social parvenuism.
Clearly, therefore, one sees the need for throwing up protective
walls around what is left of this ancestral Christmas of ours; as-
sailed, on the one hand, by the intellectually respectable and socially
apologetic West Indian novel, and, on the other, by the urbanising
of our rural homesteads the last ditch of the ancestral Christmas
-through development programmes and socalled 'cultivated' habits
of thinking and acting. One cannot look to the West Indian novel,
at its present stage of development, to provide these protective
walls. One cannot look to colonial legislators to provide these walls
either. For over colonial legislatures the same haze of national
consciousness hovers; and, in the case of Guiana, it has reached
such a stage that legislation has banished the masqueraders to areas
outside the city. The West Indian novelist is squeamish about
enjoying his proletariat pleasures, such as the centipede band and
the Mother Sally. He may approach these things in a spirit of
censure or contempt, but the parvenu in him warns against ap-
proaching them with a good appetite. To have an appetite is to
relish, and one dare not relish these things. One must keep up
European appearances. When the focal point of the West Indian
novel shifts from London to Kingston, Georgetown, or Port of
Spain, one may be oneself. One may then relish, as Dickens did,
proletariat idiosyncrasy and tribal survivals at Christmastime.
Yet what is there for one to be ashamed of in the ancestral
Guianese Christmas of the nineteen-twenties? one's Childhood
Christmas! Those were the Christmases of the fantastically deco-
rated Mother Sally, or Congojumbie, gigantically tall I can
remember seeing one lady as tall as twenty feet! rolling on her
barrel, through street after street. To roll on a barrel for hours
along a street, oftimes turning sharp corners, flouncing one one's
mobile stage, mimicing and pantomiming, wrigging one's hips and
propelling oneself, yet retaining one's balance, is a feat of endur-
ance and art. A tribute to the barbarian energy of our ancestors!
The extinction I write the word with a heartache of the
Mother Sally and the centipede band, means that our Christmases
are becoming less artful and more artificial; poorer in historic
pageantry. Mother Sally was an expression of history in harle.

quinade. Nowadays, one almost finds oneself observing an im-
ported Christmas, instead of the real, rumbustious thing. Our
dictionary of colloquial terms, too, is going to the dogs. In the
nineteen-twenties one called an unusually tall, overdressed pirouet-
ting female a 'regular Mother Sally' a censure which never failed
as a corrective.
The nineteen-twenties were the Christmases when masqueraders
were artists at wiggling and rolling their hips, and few people
know that this sort of dance was a throw-back to the Sex Dance
of the slaves. The Sex Dance, the Comfu Dance, the dance of the
masqueraders, one can trace, in them, an unbroken lineage. The
centipede bands, strumming out their torrid, dynamic disharmonies,
were offshoots of the African slave dance. The masqueraders,
snapping their fingers as they wiggled and rolled their hips, used
a language as clear and concise as any spoken tongue. Few know
that this finger-snapping goes back to the ingenuity of the slaves,
who used it as a language to defeat the Dilution System. The
Dilution System, as I have seen it described, was the mixing in the
gangs of slaves taken from various tribes, and speaking different
dialects, to prevent them understanding one another and plotting
revolts. The slaves fell back on the device of snapping-fingers
(the beating of tom-toms having been illegalised) as a language.
It was a rude form of morse; and, as the continuing slave revolts
showed, it finally rendered the Dilution System innocuous as a con-
versation curb. All that is left of these survivals now is a memory
-a terrain which we can enter only in imagination: a street-corner
where Mother Sally's head knocks against the street-lamp shade:
where the reality or illusion of vanished epoch can be recol-
lected only in silence and tranquillity: a sheltered niche where the
measureless amplitude of the mind can recreate the Past, To the
Past, then, let us go.
With what deep stirring one heard the first drum-beats and
the rattle of kettle-drums, the clash of cymbals and the shriek of
flutes, the screech of conch shells and the deep baying of the horns,
as the masqueraders came out to practise on the first day of Novem-
ber. No steelband today can hit one as hard in the emotional solar
plexus as that centipede band, bringing with it lost echoes of the
tom-toms on the old slave plantation. The bands practised 'in
the raw' To wear Christmas costume during practice would be
to spoil the dramatic suspense the real essence of the ancestral
Christmas. At the street-corner, where, in the nineteen-twenties,
big, black beetles whirled under the light, while hundreds of others
lay stunned on the ground, the bands beat out their merry melodies.
Their appearance was the signal for cottagefolk urban Custo-
dians of the Ancestral Christmas to 'strip the house'.
Stripping the house could have been done in a day, but the
dramatic suspence must not be disturbed. So the stripping was
drawn out over a month. Stripping meant tearing the carpet from
the floor, tearing paper from walls, tearing carpets from chairs,



tearing down the hanging-lamp. Having torn down all movable
property from portico and drawing-room, one turned one's attention
to the dining-room as the second week in November dawned. Names
of furniture now forgotten the What-not, the dinner-wagon, the
wagonette, the matapee, the conquintay-box, the grinding-jug, the
old easy-chair, the cowpistle', hanging high over the wagonette,
all fell under a blistering siege of washing soda and soap, borax
and vinegar, sandpaper and broken glass, in a frenzy of scrubbing,
removing all traces of last December's varnish, and getting them
nicely in the nude to be varnished again. In the third week of
November, the stripping lunacy was extended to bathroom, dry
closet, kitchen, fowl pens, dog kennel, rat traps, and the top of the
water vat, in a confusion of scrubbing, soaping, sandpapering,
bumping, hammering, rasping, gasping and pushing, which rivalled
the pandemonium of the band at one's favourite street corner.
Slowly, grimly, methodically, with the precision of Scottish
bagpipers performing a solemn slow march, the campaign was ex-
tended to the bedroom as November's last week came on. The
big, four-poster mahogany bed, an interior skyscraper perched on
its four blocks, four feet high, was pulled down, pulled to pieces,
peeped at for bugs, sniffed at where the blood of bugs stank, puri-
fied with sandpaper, and made ready for varnishing. Now the
entire cottage, confused and topsy-turvy, lay in a state of prostra-
tion and so lay many of the occupants!
The dawning of December was the signal to 'set' one's home-
made wines. Winemaking, as a ritual, was one of the most import-
ant ceremonies in creating the correct, nostalgic climate of scents
necessary to the ancestral Christmas. Jamoon wine, banana wine,
lime wine, orange wine, soursop wine, rice wine, corn wine, goose-
berry wine, each wine was set in its own wine jar; each jar had a
biece cf black crepe over its head, all resembling a team of con-
demned men with the death cap over their faces, ready for thp
gallows. Shoulder to shoulder, back to the wall, faces in the sun,
the wine jars stood, proclaiming to all visitors that Christmas was
near. After wine 'setting' beer making. Ginger beer, sorrel
beer, currant beer and 'fly', each beer to its jar: shoulder to
shoulder, backs to the wall, faces in the sun.
:As the second week in December starts, one began the Rubric
of the Pepperpot. Into grandmother's twelve-gallon iron pot went
the ingredients of the pepperpot: cowheel, cowface, pigface, breast,
oxtail, pigtail, every conceivable kind of meat went ritualistically
into the pot. The scent of wine fomenting, the scent of beer, the
scent of pepperpot being stewed, the scent of Liberian coffee beans
being parched it was a combination of pleasant aromas which
now pervade one's cottage as the calendar reads December 15,

On December 15, one 'set' one's rice for luck. Two dozen
pots and pans were filled with padi and water and left in the dew


every night. The dank scent of padi soaked in water was added to
the scent of wine, beer, pepperpot, and freshly ground Liberian
coffee. But a fourth pungent scent was to commingle with them
all, in this vast mobilization of nostalgic aromas. This was the scent
of varnish. One hardly smells the scent of varnish now. One smells
furniture polish and furniture oil, as the ancestral Christmas slowly
retreats before newfangled refinements. Anyway, varnishing
usually began in complete reverse to the stripping of the house.
That is, while one stripped from portico to rat trap, one varnished
from rat trap to portico. Why? A continuation of the process of
dramatic suspense. The portico and the drawing-room were the
show-pieces of the Christmas decoration; and the show pieces in
the ancestral Christmas, like the climax to a good short story, must
be left for the last. Now one's cottage was a nest of nostalgic scents,
noticeable as far away as one's favourite street corner, where
Mother Sally's head knocked against the street lamp shade.
With December 24, came cakemaking, souse-making, and
blackpudding-making; doughboy-makiing, cornpone-making, and
conki-making. Ah! This was a woman's day. It was stimulating to
see them at work. 'Picking' their currants and 'picking' their
prunes, and grinding them with the old ale jug on a slab of marble
grindstone. No modern mill for these cottage folk of the nineteen-
twenties. As they ground, they hipped and dipped, now left, now
right, over and under, in a flurry of hipwork which rivalled the
masqueraders outside. As Christmas day dawned, the last nail was
hammered and the last blind went up in the portico. The air in
one's cottage was now charged with scents; no, not scents, charged
with the anaesthetics of Christmas: Fresh varnish and freshly ground
coffee, pepperpot and homemade wines and beer; blackpudding and
souse and ginger beer and doughboy. One inhaled deeply, con-
tentedly. And, if one was tired, one sank down on grandmother's
ottoman, lulled into a haze by the anaesthetics of Christmas, to
listen to the bands, at the street corner where Mother Sally knocked
her head against the lamp shade.

Christmas on a Sugar Estate

(in British Guiana, 1920).

The old Watchman is knocking, and we Overseers are mocking
As he bids us to arise at break of dawn;
And the "Orders" bell is ringing as one satirist is singing:
"Christians awake, salute the happy morn"!
For it's Christmas Day for all the world except the Overseer.
He has to work as hard that day as any in the year,
He must be late for "Orders" on no account or cause
Or he'll get a Christmas "wigging" from the Boss -- his Santa

The noonday sun is shining, while a few of use are dining
On the Side-Line Dam, five miles aback or more;
But our recollections haunting make us feel there's something
Though 'tis not the absent pudding we deplore.
For Christmas cards on lonely men a sadness tends to cast,
And make them feel that yearning born of visions of the past,
The vanished scenes and faces, alight with Christmas cheer,
Return from out the years of old and taunt the Overseer.

The busy day is ending, and the coolies homeward wending
Enchant the way with anecdote and mirth;
But their songs our sighs are waking, for our very hearts are
We have lost the news angelic: 'Peace on Earth'.
O the years of lonely living while our youth is at its best!
O the sins of single living, and the coarse and ribald jest!
Their past is sordid pleasure that has left the present bare,
And may blast and mar the future of the Estate Overseer!

The moon has risen o'er us; from the temple sounds a chorus
Where the Brahmins blow their conches and beat their gongs;
Though it's bad to practise drinking, yet it's worse to keep on
So "Come, you chaps, and drown your thoughts and wrongs"!
Yes, end the dismal Christmas with an effort to rejoice!
Cough to hide those queer belying tremors in your voice!
Soothe your bitter feelings by swilling bitter beer!
Do you see the pleasant prospects of the Estate Overseer?


Christmas in 1935

Christmas Day the most wonderful day of the year, with a
giory that is undiminished by time! How did we spend it twenty
years ago? The present is so closely interwoven with the past, that
one finds it difficult to disentangle the years. Then as now,
Christmas meant the season of preparation, the thrill of anticipa-
tion, as well as the day which is its splendid climax.
We bought the fruit early, and set the Christmas cake. It tastes
so much better. We put paddy to soak in small bowls, for rice green
and growing is part of Christmas decorations.
Then, as now, the first to buy got the cheapest and prettiest
Christmas cards. Shop early, too, for prompt attention and choice
Christmas gifts.
On with the Christmas cleaning, from floor to ceiling. Polishing
the furniture, sewing new curtains, fresh cushion covers how
swiftly the days speed by! Weary work? Yes, but it is Christmas
work, when hearts are singing and hands do not tire.
December 23rd time to set the ginger beer. Pepper-pot is
such a useful "stand-by"-start it now.
Christmas Eve, scarcely less wonderful than its successor, is
here, all too soon. So much accomplished so much more to be
done! From the kitchen, appetising smells. The odour of varnish
still lingers about the other rooms, but hbw gay they look in their
Christmas garb!
There are Christmas gifts to be wrapped out-going ones
first. A knock at the door! Just in time with .'s gift. A bright
coloured parcel is exchanged for another as attractive, a smile, a
'Happy Christmas and many thanks' and on with the task.
Christmas Eve was the day for writing and posting Christmas
cards. Hurry, for we must spare an hour for walking through Water
Street and Camp Street. Who can resist a merry Christmas crowd?
Many of the stores are open, with tired clerks smiling bravely.
Some folk are really making last-minute purchases. Others are just
walking, impelled by the magic spell of Christmas. With so much
youth and happiness around one forgets to be sad.
Tomorrow will be a full day, so to bed, but hardly to sleep!
Twelve-thirty a strident voice sings, or rather shouts -"It came
upon the midnight clear". The owner, fresh from midnight Mass,
has spoilt our little nap. Two-thirty-"Si-i-lent night" (was ever a
night less silent?) a chorus of quavering voices, with a background
of talking and laughing from the streets. Choir boys are on the
front steps doing their annual carolling. How can you be angry?
This too, is Christmas! You rise, descend the stairs, open a window,
and hand them a coin. They sing "Happy Christmas to you" and
depart, well content.
You awake suddenly! It is four-thirty a.m. 'Wake up, every-
body, or we shall be late for service'. It is chilly, and rain threatens.


You sally forth with coat and umbrella. The Church is brightly ht
and well filled. The clock points to five, the hymn is announced,
and the organ peals forth "Christians awake, salute the happy
morn." The words and melody of the inspired hymn thrill you, and
rapturously you join in the singing. You leave the Church with a
heart strangely warmed. The Christmas Gift has come to you!
The morning hours are quiet. Now and then the note of a toy
bugle, the sharp crack of a toy pistol, now the sound of a carol from
a nearby gramophone.
About 9.30 a smart knock a scramble for the door. The post-
man hands a pile of Christmas cards. "Happy Christmas to you,
Post, and here's your envelope." Old friends, some of whom we
have not seen for years, and new friends all saying "Happy
Noon and Christmas dinner. Seasoned with thoughtfulness of
others and the will-to-be-happy, and be it elaborate or simple -
wonderful! Under a gay canopy of Christmas festoons how could
it be otherwise? Make it snappy with crackers. Enliven with jokes,
conclude with nuts and iced gingerbeer.
Listen! a thin fluty music, a light drumming accompaniment, a
hurrying of young feet to the windows. The masquerades! The
older ones follow, for we too value this link with our childhood.
This, too, is Christmas! We miss the rich velvet breast plate and
apron with their glittering onnaments. Only a few are in costume
at all, but the dance of gay abandon is the same. We throw a coin
into the extended hat, and smilingly watch them go by.
But the biggest thrill is the gift distribution. The children can
hardly wait to see the decorated Christmas ladder stripped of its
gifts. Humorous gifts, short character sketches in rhyme enliven
the proceedings. 'Daddy' is with difficulty persuaded to leave play-
ing with the toy racing car to join in the carol singing around the
Christmas tea, an easygoing light meal taken inbetween gifts,
toys and Christmas wrappings precedes the Christmas game. Young
and old join in the peanut hunt. Slowly at first, then eagerly the
search persisted. Carefully, enthusiastically each competitor counted
his peanuts, to discover that the owner of the toy car had won the
Why does Christmas Day seem so short? It really ought to be
the longest day in the year, with a couple of hours extra. The sun
is setting. Some of the grown ups look forward to joining other
groups for Christmas supper. For children and older adults the
day's activities are over. It is good to sit in an easy chair and look
through the Christmas cards. The peace of Christmas steals over
our spirits as we relive the happy events of the day. Christmas is
over. If only a small fraction of the kindness and generosity, the
self-forgetting goodwill of this day could remain -- always, what a
wonderful world it would be!
W. McDavid,




I am specially fortunate in that I have a sister, brother and in-
laws here, so that Xmas can be a family gathering as at home. I
expect it must be a dreadful experience for those on their own as
the hearts of the average Londoner are as wintry as their climate.
There is no day more dull than Xmas Day not a soul on the
streets, not a sound in the air, and no transport even if you wanted
to visit. To be cooped up in a room must be a nightmare on this

I think the thing most lacking here is the Spirit of Xmas. The
shops are gay and so are the trees in the windows but that seems
to be all. There is no gaiety among the people, no sharing, no
outpouring. With all our crudenesses and noise, God forbid that we
even get so civilized that we forget to laugh and love and share one
with the other.

I miss most the "rowdy band", as it was called when I was a
child, now the steel band, the carol singing, and the noise and
bustle. There is an excitement in the air, and in the houses, and
among the people. To my jaundiced mind, even the children here
do not catch this spirit, their expensive toys withal. Perhaps it is
the fault of the grown-ups.



The aspect of Christmas in B.G. that I remember most is gaiety.
Shops remained open later, shop-assistants although tired seemed
to be in a wonderful mood; crowds on the streets wet with the De-
cember rains; restaurants and clubs all full; noise, laughter and the
house to house scramble delivering Christmas presents at the last
minute, with the inevitable invitation to have 'one for the road';
the carol singers, the Christmas decorations in the homes plainly
visible from the street outside. Then on Christmas day itself and
the days following, the bands of masquerades, parties, fantastic
meals and a sense of newness about everything all around.

What do I miss the most? Two or three years ago I would have
said I miss the whole lot dreadfully. Here all public transport comes
to an end at about 4.30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Most of the shops
close early on Christmas Eve morning or do not open at all. What
transport there is, is spasmodic. London seems deserted, the few
friends one has made have all gone off home to their families. But
now I seem to have adapted myself to English Christmasses.... and
although I am still to see a typical Christmas-card Christmas, there
is nothing to describe the intense feeling of satisfaction and good-
will one gets when sitting, after a good Christmas dinner, before
an open fire listening to Christmas messages from all over the world
on the radio, or telling stories, or just doing absolutely nothing.
Incidentally I have never heard good Carol singing on the streets
in England.

I should also point out that the big difference in my recent
English Christmasses is that I spend most of them with an English
family and resign myself to their way of enjoying Christmas. Of
the two Christmasses the B.G. Christmas is more gay and carefree,
but the English Christmas seems to have almost a mystic quality
to it. If you ask me which I prefer, I think I would have to hedge
and say that I enjoy them both.



The true religious meaning of Christmas without the Com-
mercialism so rife over here the work of non-Christians. The
joyousness of everyone, particularly the children, the sociability,
masquerading and cuisine.

Christmas parties expressing the simple, yuletide, gaiety of



What have I missed at Christmas? Last year I was so home-
sick. It really didn't seem like Christmas. Naturally I missed the
warm sunshine and the flowering trees and shrubs. I missed the
masquerade. Even though it is dying out I can't remember once
when I didn't see the masquerade at Christmas. I missed the crowds
down on Water Street. The crowds in New York were different, the
spirit wasn't the same. Then I couldn't even hear the steel bands
"warming up" near Bourda green. Most of all I think I missed my
family, all my cousins and aunts and uncles. The scent of Christmas
cake baking, the busy kitchen, the joy of running outside and
helping to cut a limb from the. cherry or donce tree to use as a
Christmas tree will always remain with me. O those Christmas
lunches with the whole family round the huge mahogany table' I
can still see the children laughing at each other's jokes and saying
'Hear, hear" at every pause in the toasts, a little too loudly at
times. Oh the carol singers are non-existant in Manhattan. I un-
derstand that they do function in Brooklyn and other suburbs. I
missed them so much; not to say the least of the trumpeter who
came round to play in Vreed-en-hoop.

The holiday season in B.G. is so much longer than in New
York. Here every one goes to work the next day. Boxing day
doesn't exist, everybody is too busy making money. The Christmas
season in B.G. is so beautiful, there are lots of time to visit family
and friends. It's a very nice social as well as merry season.



Although far removed in time and space from the scenes of my
childhood Xmases, I can still feel a childish pleasure at the thought
of Xmas in British Guiana, particularly Xmases of long ago. Some-
how they are still more vivid than the Xmas atmosphere I have
tried to create for my own small children.
First of all, it always rained at Xmas, and whenever there is a
dry Xmas, one still feels the Weatherman has lost his calender.
With the first November rains, came the smell of Xmas, and spon-
taneously would be heard from sources high and low such phrases
as "by Xmastime" or "after the holidays" or even "In the New
Of course, the shops with their displays of toys and -idvertise-
ments of Xmas goods contributed largely to the feeling of anticipa-
tion and excitement. The crowds in Water Street by day and Camp
Street by night would become daily larger and louder, working up
in a great crescendo to the climax of Xmas.
Of Xmas itself, there are many impressions of parties where
one received a present from the Tree. Not the elaborate, sophistica-
ted, ready-made Xmas tree of today, but one of our own casuarina,
with home-made tinsel ornaments and lighted for a short time on
Xmas night with tiny candles. The whole family worked together
to produce the Xmas-tree.
There was the custom of planting rice for Xmas, and many
were the windows in which small containers of growing green rice
would be displayed.
Then there was the "Centipede" band, whose coming made our
hearts quicken with fearful anticipation. How difficult it was to be-
lieve that behind the hideous masks and grotesque gyrations were
ordinary mortals. The custom of the masquerade has long died out.
Still, the spirit of joy, love, and giving remains unchanged, no
matter what form of expression it takes.



What can I remember? I can remember so many things -
Christmas Eve night down Camp Street, everywhere gaily decora-
ted, firecrackers going off everywhere the meeting of friends and
the air of Christmas and what it brings to everyone be it the North
or South pole. The last minute shopping of some gift or something
you forgot at the Blue Light Store or perhaps just to go in and
look around the spontaneous wishing of "Merry Christmas" to
each and everyone regardless of who he or she may be. Then comes
the 5 o'clock service at the Cathedral something I would not
miss for any thing the dawn breaking through the dark clouds
making the stained glass windows more beautiful, if that were
possible, while the choir and organ chant out their sad and sweet
hymn. Then outside after the service the meeting again of friends,
friends that perhaps you may see every day and every year, but still
there's something in again saying just "Merry Christmas". Can I
forget the strong heavy persistent aroma and taste of Garlic Pork,
which was usually served for breakfast? I must try and make some
this Christmas. The Ginger Beer, the sorrel drink, the round of
parties, the masked bands. What do I miss most? The real true
friends that I made in British Guiana. The black pudding and
souse on Saturday nights. And.how can I forget "Fly?"


Masquerades (E.R.B.)


Not masqueraders, but masquerades that's what we called
them. And for me, as a boy, they constituted the big feature of
Christmas (after, of course, Santa Claus). It was Masquerades
that made the Christmas of my youth a fascinating, even a pleasant-
ly frightening, season. Yes, it frightened me when I was a boy,
this custom of men in masks and elaborate costumes parading in
bands in the street, beating drums and playing flutes.

"Masquerades," our nurse had often warned my sister and my-
self, "sometimes put children into a bag and take them away".
Even without this warning, however, it would have given us a
terrifying thrill to watch the fantastically garbed figures go by,
hopping and leaping and miming in a manner that could excusably
have put fear into an adult.

Yet Christmas in New Amsterdam would have been an in-
tolerably dull business had it not been for the Masquerades. Indeed,
to us children, the word was synonymous with Christmas and noth-
ing but Christmas.

Throughout the whole season the alarm continually flared.
"Masquerades!"...."Drums! Masquerades are coming down the

And my sister and I, as though in the toils of some fatal en-
chantment, would go scampering off to take up our posts of vantage
behind the drawn blinds in the gallery.

Long before I reached adulthood, the Masquerades had vanished.
Up to when I left British Guiana in 1941 the flutes were still trilling
at Christmas but in rum-shops and dance-halls, accompanied
sometimes by the deep bark of euphoniums or sousaphoness", or the
wail of saxophones. Why were there no more Masquerades? Was
it that their peculiar magic could not hope to survive the harsh
glare of "progress"?


Christmas in New Amsterdam

My fondest memories of Christmas are of listening to my
brother tell my sisters and me, last thing before we went to bed on
Christmas Eve, the story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Beth-
lehem, and of the birth of Jesus in a manger, and most exciting
of all, of Santa Claus! of trying to guess, as sleep fought for
possession of my mind, just which of my many and varied requests
written the week before, Santa Claus would consider; of being the
first to come awake to open my stocking and see what Santa had
brought me. Year after year the spell remained unbroken and I
shall never forget when on my thirteenth Christmas I woke to find
no stocking but only formal gifts from my parents and sisters. Even
the whispered consolation that since I was more grown-up than my
two younger sisters I would be let into the secret that there was no
Santa Claus after all, failed to cheer me. It was Christmastime and
I did not want to be grown-up! I don't know which I cried for more
- not receiving a "Stocking" or the shattering of the precious
illusion of Santa Claus which had hitherto brought such excite-
ment. When long afterwards I read in Stevenson's "Child's Play":
"Spare them yet a while, O conscientious parent! Let them doze
among their play things yet a little! for who knows what a rough
war-faring existence lies before them in the future?", I well un-
derstood the sentiments that had inspired the author.
The village musicians usually came at 5 a.m. on Christmas day
with fiddle and flute, guitar and home-made sousaphone to play for
us the popular tunes of the day and receive alcoholic cheer from
my Father. At daybreak our family was joined in the singing of
carols by all the patients in the nearby hospital who could walk
over to our house. From lunch time till dusk the masqueraders en-
tertained us, "Long Lady" and "Mother Sally" making merry with
Afro-West Indian gyrations to percussion, woodwind and brass.
We moved to the town when I was fourteen, and celebrations
were enhanced by the opportunity to walk up and down the
jostling pavements on a Christmas Eve, gazing entranced nose
pressed to pane at toy-laden windows; experience the joy, in
fanciful imaginings, in choosing just what one wanted for oneself;
watching the fairy lights a-bubble and twinkle in the trees, and the
Christmas Star atop of them all symbol of peace and goodwill!
Adolescence grew into young womanhood, but the pleasures of
Christmas were no less exciting, although now they took on a
quieter and subtler hue. The joys came now from the shared love
for music and its expression in song in the community of my home
and neighbourhood, of the hurried last minute shopping, and the
quiet excitement of Christmas Eve; of the peculiar joy that seems
to bless the Day, and the age-old, never-fading beauty of Christmas
hymns chanted by my mother and sisters in the sopranos, to the
quiet accompaniment of my contralto of my father's tenor har-


moniously blending, and the rich resonance of our neighbour's bass.
Like the shepherds of old we take our tribute of song to Beth-
lehem's manger, and find quiet pleasure in the journey. There was
also the pleasure which comes mnot from receiving, but from seeking
to find and to give just the right gift to bring the most joy, and in
anticipating the pleasure it would bring to relative and friend.
Joining a group of carollers is one of the happiest ways of
spending Christmas Eve. I shall never forget the time, when, with
some boys and girls from my Youth Club, I set out on our annual
carol singing expedition. We had planned to tour the town in a
donkey-cart. We were to set out at 7.00 p.m. At 7.30 p.m. however,
the donkey was yet to be found. He had managed to get away
from where he had been tied, in a bid, no doubt, to spend Christmas
as he pleased and not as we would have him. He was finally caught
in a field, browsing away, dreaming perhaps of a bygone day when
he had borne, not a noisy set of boys and girls but a gentle Mother,
soon to be, as She and Joseph wearily sought shelter on a long re-
membered night. Perhaps he gave in to our entreaty because he
knew that our boisterousness was no affront to the Christmas Spirit
of his reflections but only a natural outcome of our twentieth cen-
tury background of jets and bombs; that we were no less in won-
drous awe than the shepherds of old, nor lacked the reverence of
the angel hosts. And so he came.
We had a cart; we had found the donkey. But now there was
no lamp, without which we could not start! Another hunt ensued,
the children deciding, fortunately for the morale of the group and
my reputation as leader, that I had been organising treasure hunts
on the sly! They took the set-back in good spirit, and finally, tired
but happy, a lamp having been found, we set out half of us in the
cart, and half on foot. Our- mode of conveyance thus alternating we
spread our cheer around, the spirit of Christmas lending gaiety to
our aching feet.
Christmas in England! How shall I write of it? It was not very
different the way I spent it from that at home. The shops
were larger, of course, the decorations more elaborate, and the
milling millions in London's streets on Christmas Eve very fascina-
ting to watch. But the Spirit of Christmas was the same. The Day
dawned gladdeningly fair amid the gloomy weather of a London
December and I awoke to the sound of carolling. There was a wave
of nostalgic longing as thoughts winged homewards, but I was to
visit newly-made friends and the prospect lent excitement to the
day. The streets were hushed as I came out and even the trains
seemed to lack company. As I boarded one of them for Iver, Bucks,
where I spent the holiday week-end, the only reminder of the usual
London bustle was a florist's cart from which I bought a bunch of
daffodils for my hostess. At Iver I joined a little group in a service
in their chapel. I was asked to sing in the choir which I enjoyed
immensely. Christmas there was a family affair, as I had known
it at home, and thus, linked in spirit with my home across the seas,
the loneliness was erased and I felt that I was in no strange land.




There is something thrilling about the sound of Christmas
music, and for the full enjoyment of this season, Christmas carols
are just as necessary as the sight of the Christmas decorations, or
the special smells that come from all kitchens at Christmas time.
The familiar Christmas tunes arouse all our generous impulses,
and this fact is shamefully exploited by the businessmen of Wrater
Street. From the beginning of November, and sometimes even be-
fore that, the stores are flooded with the music of Christmas carols,
and even if we try to ignore it at first, we soon become vulnerable
and settle down to making our lists of Christmas presents.
In spite of the limited period for which they can possibly be in
vogue, Christmas carols arouse a tremendous amount of en-
thusiasm each year, and'enjoy an ever-increasing popularity. Carol-
singing is a deep-rooted tradition in many parts of the world and
it is an essential part of a Guianese Christmas. The old favourites
"Silent Night" and "Hark, the herald angels sing" have lost none
of their popularity, but several others have become fashionable in
this colony in recent years, "Ding, dong, merrily on high" and
"Deck the hall with boughs of holly" being among those. "Away in
a Manger" would seem to be the small children's favourite choice,
and I remember one little girl who after her first term at school de-
clared to her parents that the carol she liked best was the one about
"Molly Faithful." After some questioning her mother discovered
that "Come, all ye faithful" was the carol referred to.
During the coming weeks we may look forward to personal
visits from groups of little boys with clear merry voices, or from
lorry loads of adult choirs, all spreading the same spirit of peace
and goodwill as the first carol-singers did -
"Angels from the realms of glory
Now proclaim Messiah's birth."
Every step of the Christmas story is traced in song; we sing of
the Advent Prophecy and the Annunciation; of the stable and the
visits of the Shepherds and the Wise Men,

Steel Band







Fashions have changed in street music at Christmas as in
everything else. The tin flute and drum of the "Mother Sally" bands
and dancers on stilts, have given way to the more modern steel
bands playing their version of the Christmas tunes.
The Radio does its part at this time to flood every home with
inspiring music spreading the Christmas spirit; early morning and
late at night the turn of a switch brings up pealing bells, glorious
organ tones and singing choirs.
To most of us, the Carol services held in many churches on
the first Sunday of the New Year marks the close, of the Season's
music, and we will regretfully say goodbye to the carols old and
new until the Christmas season comes round again.

Steelband Magic

A tropical rhythm at present sweeping through the music
scenes of British Guiana, has not only imparted a new tempo to the
fox trot, the one step and the waltz alike, but has placed a new
ceiling on sophistication.
So intoxicating is the rhythm, that the young, the old and the
not so aged could sometimes unconsciously be seen jumping high,
jumping low, swaying and gyrating in gay abandon. This tropical
magic? No saxophone, no trumpet, no cello, no string bass, but just
the music of pots and pans, steel bins and drums the rhythm of
-the steelband.
Formerly discarded or put to other use after its imported con-
tents were removed, the steel bin is now on demand by a growing
generation of musicians, who have attained surprising proficiency
at beating out a collection of tunes and rhythm which can hardly
be resisted even by the recluse.
Replacing the 'Santapee' band made up of a bass drum, kittle
and flute, which for years paraded the streets of Georgetown and
the villages of the countryside on festive occasions, the steelband
has now invaded the hearts and halls of even the most sophistica-
ted, to take its place among the top orchestras of British Guiana.
A casual visitor will be curious to know how these disused
bins and drums are turned into veritable music boxes. Here's How:
Cut horizontally in half, a bin at once serves for two separate in-
struments, These are then scraped and heated. Those to be used for
the lighter type of music, called the first and second pans to dis-
pense melody and timing, etc., are heated for about four to five
minutes, then chilled with water and prepared for the grooving
process. This is done with hammer and chisel being used on the
face and back of the drums and from this procedure the various

notes are returned to a particular scale. To produce the deeper
notes the tune bass and drums the bins are heated for about
8 to 10 minutes, with bigger grooves being made.
Introduced into British Guiana from the neighboring island
of Trinidad, the steelband first swept into popular favour in 1953
on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation. Beating out
popular patriotic airs, several combinations then paraded the
streets, drawing thousands in their train and reaping rich reward
when Governor Sir Alfred Savage permitted them entrance into
Government House grounds and himself accorded appreciation of
their high standard of music.
From that moment, the 'pan-beaters' showed renewed vigour,
practising day and night in the desire to extend their musical
talent. Soon a varied assortment of airs were being beaten out from
the Classics to the Calypso, from Gounod's "Ave Maria" to Lord
Kitchener's "Jumbee Jamboree," from "Rule Britannia" to "Dear
The 'pan-beaters' secured another stimulus when a combina-
tion from Trinidad invaded British Guiana shores to pit their
prowess against the growing army of local bands in an intercolonial
Then came the climax of the 'pan-beaters' ambitions-inclusion
on the programme of the 1954 B.G. Music Festival. With about 12
bands competing and playing one test piece "Timber Man" a
Guianese folk song and another piece of their particular choice,
the Texacans emerged winners.
A few of these bands have already made trips to neighboring
islands, but one is now going a step further by planning an in-
vasion of several islands of the West Indies and also other countries
in South America.
The exponents of this 'steel' music can be found in all walks
of life, from the Civil Servant to the casual labourer, some of them
proficient musicians, others merely enthusiasts. A striking feature
too, of several of these 'steel' combinations, is that they are com-
posed entirely of the female sex, who are also given to more as-
siduous practice than their opposite numbers.
And so the steelband is now a Colony-wide acceptance, beat-
ing out its tropical rhythms at dances picnics, fairs, processions and
demonstrations, enticing in its wake of jumpers, the young and old,
the staid and sophisticated alike. Thus imparting the 'local' touch
to any occasion, the steelband can truly be said to be generating
yet another form of Guianese culture, changing the novelty of but
two years ago into another form of Guianese art.


The Recipes of a B.G. Xmas

In a short while it will be Christmas and as this festive
season approaches housewives begin to busy themselves with pre-
parations for it.

Of course there is the general cleaning and brightening up of
the home furniture, drapes, cushions and what not, but most
important of all is the Christmas fare. This the wise housewife

will begin to prepare well ahead of time, not only to avoid the last
minute rush, but also taking into account the period required for
bringing some of the dainties and sweeatmeats up to their special

"Good wine improves with age" is the old and proved adage.
so let's get off to the correct start with our wines and liqueurs.

1 pt. High Wine
2 Egg Whites (and Shells Crushed)
4 lbs. C. W. Sugar
12 glass Lime Juice
4 large bottles water
1 oz. Mace

Boil and strain mace in / cup of water.
Mix ingredients and sweeten.
Whisk in well beaten egg white and crushed shell.
Set for 21 days in a covered jar.
Strain and bottle.


f pts. Water / pint White Rice
2 lbs. Sugar 2 or 3 Slices Orange
1 lb. Prunes 2 ozs. Yeast
I/ lb. Raisins

Put everything in a jar and leave for 21 days stirring once or twice
during this time.
Tie down top of jar to exclude all air.
After 18 days whisk in a beaten egg white.
Strain off and bottle at the end of the 21 days.

These two recipes are simple and if tried out in time will pro-
vide just the right kick to get the ladies started for a good season.
But what about the men, we know they like their good B.G. rum,
but girls if you want them to be home for that Christmas lunch
then take the first jump and before they get a chance to meet the
boys and forget the baked bird, tempt them with some Tangerine
Liqueur. fI you don't know to make it here's the recipe.


1. Steep the yellow rind of four tangerines and the juice of one
in a bottle of high wine for 15 days.

2. Strain it.
3. Make a syrup of 1/2 pounds C.W. Sugar and .one bottle and a
half of water. Let it boil thick.
4. Add the high wine to the syrup while it is still warm, stir well
and strain through a flannel bag.
5. Add about 1 pint water. Stir well and bottle.

Now that we have taken care of our liquor cabinet with a
good supply of home made stuff including the jamoon and sorrel
wines that you have made since last year, we can think of some-
thing else. Talking about sorrcl, did you ever try sorrel jam.
Well now that the fruit is in season, this is just the time to do so.



1. Wash the sorrel without steeping in water.
2. Seed and chop into small pieces.
3. Cook in a covered pot (4 cups sorrel to 1 cup water) for 5
minutes. Remove from fire.
4. Measure the quantity. To 1 cup cooked sorrel use 3/ cup C.W.
5. Add juice of 1 or 2 fresh limes.
6. Return to fire and keep stirring with wooden spoon until sugar
7. Cook until the stuff thickens.
8. Cool and bottle.

Malacca Pears also which are plentiful now make a very good
jelly. Try making it as you would guava jelly, but you would have
to add a little more lime juice.

Well how about some pickles. Besides being good flavouring
'or our meals they serve as excellent "Cutters".


14 medium sized Bilembys
12 Bulbs of Eschallot
6 medium sized Peppers

A few bits of Shredded Cabbage.
1 pt. Vinegar
3 ozs. (6 level tabsps.) Salt.

1. Wash Bilemby and peppers; remove stalks.
2. Put vinegar in pan to boil.
3. Add salt and boil for about 3 minutes.
4. Remove from fire.
5. Add peppers and Bilemby and leave to cool.
6. Put into tightly covered bottles and store.

It is about time we start thinking about that Christmas cake.
Later on fruits will be scarce and more expensive so if you have not
yet set yours get the following items and start now.



1 lb. butter or margarine 1 small teaspoon mixed spices
1 lb. sugar 1 lb. raisins
8 eggs 4 ozs. cherries
1 lb. flour /4 lb. mixed peel
1/ teaspoon salt /4 lb. nuts
1 lb. currants and .sultanas 1 cup brandy or rum
(mixed) 4 teaspoons baking powder.

Beat the butter and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder.
Powder the fruit lightly with some of the sifted flour.
Add fruit to the butter mixture.
Fold in the flour to which the baking powder has been added, add
spices, brandy/rum, nuts and enough milk and water to make
a dropping consistency.
Bake in a moderate over for about 11/ to 2 hours.

This recipe can be made just before Christmas or if preferred
set the fruits for a week or two.

After this is set and out of the way there should be enough time
to do the cobwebbing and cleaning which shouldn't really be very
much if done at regular intervals. Next the "Fly" must be set and
Garlic Pork prepared. This should be done at least a week before

1 lb. White S. Potatoes 3 to 4 lbs. C.W. Sugar
4 large limes or 3 lemons 1/2 oz. each Clove and Mace.
1 egg white

Peel and grate potato and wash until free of starch. Squeeze 4
large limes or 3 lemons and strain. Boil clove and mace and
strain. Allow to ccol. Put potato, sugar, lime juice and juice
-from mace and clove. Add 1 gallon water. Stir till sugar is
dissolved. Add the well beaten white of an egg and whisk in.
Cover and leave for 8 days. Strain off and bottle in strong
dark bottles. Tie down corks to prevent from popping off.
Note: This may be used after 4 days but it is much better when

6 lbs. Pork 3 large Peppers
6 ozs. Garlic 2 Bundles Thyme
3 bots. White Vinegar Salt to taste

1. Prepare 2 large bowls of water (about 6 pts. each) to which has
been added 1/ bottle of vinegar and 2 tablespoons salt.
2. Cut pork into fairly large pieces about 3" cube and allow to
soak until scum appears.
3. Using a fork remove to second bowl.
4. Have two large clean cloths in which to dry the pork squeez-
ing out as much moisture as possible.
5. Pound garlic, peppers and thyme. Put into a large jar. Add
vinegar and salt to taste. If vinegar is too strong a little water
can be added.
6. Add pork. It must be well immersed in the mixture. If not
add more vinegar or water according to taste.
7. Allow to soak for at least 3 days before use and occasionally turn
with a long spoon.
One week to go and if everything went as planned there is time
enough during this week to turn the carpet at this angle and that,
change the chairs in ninety nine various positions before setting
them back to the original ones, hang the Christmas decorations and
make sure that all the fairy lights on the tree are in good working
order, and as I said before time enough to fuss and fuss and make
last minute dashes to the store to get a gift for Mrs. X or Mr. Y. But
do get all this over before Christmas Eve, for remember there is
the Baked Turkey to prepare for Christmas Day.
So it's Christmas Eve, and now for the bird.

1. Draw the bird.
2. Prepare for roasting by rubbing in salt, blackpepper, lime juice,
garlic and some finely pounded ginger.
3. Cover and leave for 2 or 3 hours.


1. Soak biscuit crumbs with as much water as it can absorb.
2. Chop heart, liver, gizzard, cook in hot oil for 3 minutes then
add water to soften. 'Add seasonings thyme and eschallot.
3. Remove from heat and add to soaked biscuit, SaltLto taste,
Worcestershire Sauce, 1/2 oz. Cooking Butter, % tsp. Grated
4. Stuff the bird.
5. Fold the skin over at neck.
6. Press leg forward at knee joints turn wings in and under
bird. Use toothpicks to lace up.
7. Bake in hot oven for 1 to 1/4 hours basting frequently.

As a change we'll serve some Soursop Punch after lunch. This
must be prepared the same day and serve immediately after

(for immediate use)
1 medium sized soursop
1 2 pts. cold water
1 strip 'lemon peel
Pinch of salt
Enough condensed milk or sugar to sweeten.

Wash and peel soursop, mash in a bowl with lime peel.
Gradually stir in water.
Mix well and strain, be sure that all flavour is drawn out.
Add salt and condensed milk or sugar. Chill before serving.

So girls that winds it all up.
Merry Christmas! and I hope everything will be a hit.

Christmas in Montserrat

I was 12 years old when I left the island of Montserrat; but
my memories of Chrismas there will remain with me as long as I
Christmas, then, in that island, took the form of a Carnival
that lasted throughout Christmas week. Of course, the approach
to Christmas is the same as anywhere else in the Caribbean. There
is the pre-Christmas buying of gifts, foods, and decorative material
right on to the last minute. Christmas Eve the stores naturally
stayed open late.
There were the usual groups of carol singers going from house
to house all with the general intention of spreading good-will
towards men, with the secondary thought of groups which we may
divide thus:- good-will money; good-will food and drink;
and just plain good-will.
Naturally, the children were sent to bed early to awaken on
Christmas morn with the only thought of seeing what Father Christ-
mas had brought for them.
Christmas day remained the quiet family day, where good-will,
good food, and pleasant thoughts prevailed.
Then came Boxing Day. The streets were alive with music
that accompanied various types of beautifully costumed bands and
the crowds that just must follow a band. There were bands of
clowns, devils, Indians, etc. There were, among other sounds,
the loud cracking of bull whips, which were permitted to be carried
in those days. There were individuals in their specialised cos-
tumes. The most impressive of these was the costume worn by a
senior Police Officer, portraying an angel, all in white, complete
with wings and a sign reading "Peace, Perfect Peace".
In direct contrast, other memorable impressions were those of
the devil, all in chains and horned, chasing his captor and pinning
him to the ground with his fork.
There were demonstration fights between two properly
padded men, using 10-foot long bull whips; and the breaking of
a 100-pound stone, that lay on the tummy of a man, using a huge
sledge hammer. All this was accompanied by music, and at the
end of the performance, hats were held out; into these grown-ups
and delighted children threw pennies and silver coins from the
upper storeys of the buildings.
Then came New Year's Day, and......last lap. Those who
were not on the streets during Christmas week found themselves
there on that day. The musicians unseen, because of the
crowds that thronged around them moved and played at a
quicker pace. Ever so noticeable were the sticks and bull-whips
held over the head of almost every individual in the crowd; these,
as I remember, were very rarely used for violence.
As darkness grew, all became quiet, and Christmas had come
and gone.......and a New Year had begun.
Teddy McDowell

Christmas in Grenada

Boom boom clang clang
Plicky-tee plack
Squeak squeak plang plang
Ticky-tee tack........
"Christmas comes but once a year
And every man must give his share"........
Pom po-rom-pom
Bangy-tee bang........
"Wy ya-yi-yi
yi yi!

This introduces an aspect of Christmas in Grenada as remains
in my memory from those far-off days of my childhood.

I visualize this Christmas symposium of Kyke's as an attempt
at composing a Caribbean Christmas Card. The pastels and greys
of the background representing those essential common customs
that girth the Christian world those we are all familiar with.
On ths background, tones of colour and rhythm warm and vibrant
must be added splashes of colour symbolic of different aspects
of Christmas in different places at different times splashes
highlighting unique and individual customs moulded by the hands
of history and geography.

Here then is Grenada's splash

-the Christmas Serenaders of Grenada!
The Seranaders are bands of musicians usually Passio
musicians who play and sing from house to house over the
Christmas season they are followed by a floating and spon-
taneous crowd who form the dance chorus. The sweeter the band
the larger the chorus and the better the spree so it was with
Owen's band.

Owen was a hero of mine and a distant cousin. The sweetest
fiddler you could hope to hear on a Christmas morning. No doubt
he is long dead......

Hard work and rum
Little food
nuff fun .

Owen suffered for years from a life-sore, which while it did
not affect his cheerful and contagious personality, gave him a


comic limp as he led his band down the streets and up the gaps,
elbows and fingers threatening the sound barrier to the rhythm of
his passios.

Owen on fiddle was ably supported by Sammy the Postman
on clarinet (I have never seen Sammy out of his khaki uniform
with his khaki helmet tilted back), Alfred Miss Marshall (Miss
Marshall who used to sell pudding and souse and roast corn,
when in season, on the wharf) on guitar, Bag-i-yam (who in his
day could run a cow from Point Saline, Piednontemp or Chantemel
to the slaughter house without stopping for rest for water), on
goat-skinned drum, and Doun-Doun (whose mother used to sell
Sea-Eggs and Lambi and watered down milk) on steel triangle.
That was Owen's Band.

Other Bands may boast certain outstanding virtuosos such as
"Drunking" Strachan, the occasional butcher, on quarto, and
Henry "Fay Stay" the dog Charmer, on piccolo; but for a rounded
and balanced Christmas morning Band, I still take Owen's -
family feelings aside.

The strains of a hot passio fly ahead heralding the bands
rhythmic procession, trumpeting the joys of Christmas.

The clipped sharp-edged notes of the clarinet and triangle
cleave their way through the Christmas sky, speeded by the thuds
of the drum.

Here comes Owen and his band and followers swinging into
view the very picture of Christmas good-cheer, goodwill, spon-
taneous sympathy and glowing peace. They will soon be here
bearinggifts of song and dance bent on breaking bread and drink-
ing wine in holy Christian Communion the lowly and the high,
the stable-hand and the Pharaoah.

"Gud morning
Gud Mornin,
Gud morning master and mistress
of dis most magnificent cottage,
We come to greet yuh on dis happy morn
When Jesus Christ was born
In Bethlihem of Judaaa
while sheppards watched
a beautiful light in de east
in a mainja Jesus Christ our
Saveya ,"


Boom! boom! boom!
"Open yuh dore"
Boom! boom! boom!
"Open yuh dore
and ah wish yuh
a merry Chrismuss -

All wa yuh got
fi-a-wee .
Ah drink a rum
gi-a-wee .
ah slice ah ham
gi-a-wee .
de ham skin self
gi-a-wee .
All wah yuh got
fi-a-wee .
Ah slice ah fowl
gi-a-wee .
de cookoo in de pat
gi-a-wee ..
de bun-bun self
S. gi-a-wee .

The master and mistress of the most magnificent cottage has
by now appeared or further verses indicating different types of
Christmas fare that appeals to the solo singers' taste are added-
turkey, wine, cake, etc. The festivities begin, there is drinking
and feasting and dancing and perhaps the odd dollar or two. More
music, more speeches of thanks and off the merry band moves to
the Customs Officer's house next door.

I at this point have joined the followers and abandoned my-
self to the licence of the day. My father comes over later the
red-sea of revellers part for him to enter his friend's house to
commune with him, his family and all.
And so, it's off again, other followers take over and I retire
to the sanctuary of the family table. The couplet of the serenaders
re-echo in my ear "Christmas comes but once a year .... "
The hardy perennial puts on its annual bloom and indelibly
scants the memory -
All is joy
All is peace,
All is love.

The Serenaders will come again and when they die they will
yet live,


Christmas in Jamaica

"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way", and so they did
at Christmas as we all prepared for service at 4.30 in the morning,
in a small and friendly seaport town in Jamaica. The air was crisp,
so we wore thick warm clothes and laughed and talked without
pause the better to enjoy the sight of the warm air floating from
our mouths in little intimate evanescent clouds. You see, we were
young. In this town people were very proud of their main street
which was referred to as The Front Street, every other road was
known simply as "back street." It was one mile long, rule-straight,
and wide, with the sea at the far end. It used to be bordered with
accacia trees and canna lilies. All business places, shops, the mar-
ket, etc., faced the Front Street, and on Christmas morning as people
passed up and down to church there were greetings exchanged by
families and individuals on this morning we passed crowded
churches on either side of the street, first the Salvation Army,
where the drum beat steadily, boom, boom, boom, then the Adven-
tist, and the Anglican and the Methodist, each standing in its own
lonely yard. Yet the bells broke that isolation and each summoned
the rest to sound another peal calling us all to come and worship.
As usual, the Baptist's bell was last, and we laughed at that as
though it were new.

Inside our own Church there was such a feeling of belonging
to such an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill that our spirits
soared and excitement warmed us to the point where we almost
shouted the words of the first carol "Christians, awake! salute the
happy morn" and it seemed that Christmas was a reality.

In fact we had been conscious of Christmas weeks before, from
the first November morning when the sea breeze wore his winter
coat, its edges rough and crisp, quickening the blood and bringing
to the mind thoughts of the holidays ahead. Then masquerade
dancers plagued the shops and dressmakers for scraps of cloth to
"dress the polly" and little boys collected silver paper from dis-
carded cigarette boxes to make shining swords for the dancers, who
each night, met in secret and practised their dance in some obscure
yard, with muted bamboo pipes and kettle drums. There was also
practise for the Christmas morning concert, organised by Voluntary
social workers to raise money for distribution to the needy, and
there was Santa Claus in the Town Hall to distribute gifts at a
Children's Party. At Christmas all the family contrived to meet in
the same house. There was the excitement of giving and receiving


gifts, of visiting friends and then Christmas Dinner to finish the
day. Eleven years ago Christmas trees were not seen in our homes,
so gifts used to be put in stockings and pillow cases; and for the
older folk they were piled on a table, and distributed, but for as
long as I can remember the early morning service was the focal
point of the celebrations which started so long ago in a little town
in Bethlehem.

Christmas in Suriname

Let us assume that it is true what has been often said, that Suri-
name because of its isolation and conservation has preserved very
much of the original social and cultural patterns of its many
heterogeneous groups of population. And let us in consequence
assume that Suriname may be considered as representative of the
West Indian way of thinking and feeling to a fairly high degree.
In that case it must also be true that Christmas is not a feast deeply
rooted in the pattern of life of any substantial part of the West
Indian population, not even of the Creole or Christian section of
the people. For in Suriname we do not make much fuss about
The reasons are obvious. Neither the reason around the fixed
date of December 25th, nor the fact of a mostly unobserved winter-
solstice about that time, have any special meaning for those who
live auite 'near to the common border of the hemispheres. And
as far as Christianity is concerned without denying the existence
of a strong religious feeling everywhere in our country, even among
the heathen, we have to confess that the almost century-old work
of missionaries of various denominations has not succeeded yet
in creating more than a superficial colouring of our morals. The
nomenclature of many things has been altered, but feelings and
thoughts could not be influenced much in so short a time. As
regards the feast of Christmas, the Churches found nothing ancient
to fall back upon, as has been the case in Europe, where pagan
rites of several kinds were christianised during a slow but persistent
and millenary process.
There is 'no doubt that Christmas in Suriname has a meaning
only for the faithful Christians and is a special church-going day
for many of them about a third of the population. This is
clearly expressed by the 'name for Christmas in the vernacular,
the one specific name for this and no other Christian feast, viz:
bedaki, which literally means "prayer-day". The name is exact.
Men and women who attend church on that day, more than ever
they go to church for worship and not for display. The Catholics
have a mass at dawn, as everywhere, and they revel in the usual
Christmas songs, imported from Holland, and preferably sing them


before the adorned stable built in the church. But they don't sing
these songs at home; at best they listen to them as they are blared
out by the radio. Later in the day the Protestants have their ser-
vices, with less pomp and sentimentality, but with all the dignified
solemnity that so strongly appeals to the Creole population. And
that is that. When church is ever, Christmas is practically over,
except for some better food at home. You will find no special
decoration in the houses, no special dishes for the occasion, save
among the highly Europeanised individuals. It is a day of quiet-
ness and leisure, that has no special appeal for the children in a
country where many of them are born in dwellings worse than
a stable, where they would have been too lucky to share the com-
pany of an ox and an ass, mostly better off than they are, and where
during so many centuries no king or queen has ever come to pay
them a visit. If some black king has left them any tribute, it
must have been the bitterness of myrrh.
Well-wishing strangers are trying now but in vain to in-
troduce Christmas trees, symbols of little meaning in a country al-
most entirely covered by trees, bush or weed. These strangers
import artificial firs, which some clever local people in their turn
try to imitate with cactuses or other decorative plants. They have
their artificial snow and icicles, made from cotton-wool and glass,
-meaning nothing at all for those who never saw any snow or
frost. No wintry atmosphere can be transplanted, and the most
our modernists attain, is creating a vague nostalgia among each
other, a feeling of which the genuine population remains com-
pletely unaware.
Still there is something very positive to be mentioned in con-
nection with our Christmas celebrations in Suriname. The day
being the feast of peace to all men of goodwill, it happens that in
the afternoon some Hindu or Moslim or heathen acquaintance drops
in to bring his good wishes and to share in our cake or ginger-
beer, that belong to any feast whatsoever. They do so reciprocally,
exactly as the Creoles do when the others have their Phagwa
feast, their end of the Ramadan or their New-years-day, to inau-
gurate the approach of the Ki-lin, the fabulous animal that precedes
an era of happiness. So we wish each other a good time, a happy
day and many returns, regardless of what the exact meaning of
all that may be.
In Suriname it is generally understood, that for men of good-
will it does not matter at all if they are specially conscious of peace
on the 25th of December or any other date. The important thing
is, to live peacefully together the whole year long and through as
many generations as God, Karma, Allah or Fate will permit. If
this in reality should be a typical West-Indian attitude towards
Christmas, I am glad that this feast for the most of us in Suriname
remains something utterly prosaic.


Relaxation for Christmas Day -

Here are a few questions on topics mainly connected with
Christmas. With each query, a group of possible answers is
supplied, and the test is to tick off those you think to be right.
(1) First of all, which is the native country of that popular
Chirstmas bird, the turkey?
Persia China
India Scotland
England Turkey
America Australia
(2) Which country originated the custom of the Christmas
Denmark Palestine
Germany Italy
Holland Switzerland
(3) According to tradition, which is the correct date to take
down all Christmas decorations?
December 31st January 1st
January 6th December 27th
(4) In which of these countries did the practice of giving
presents at Christmas originate?
Wales Ireland
Germany Italy
Belgium Holland
(5) Where is the custom of serving the Boar's Head observed
every Christmas?
The Mansion House, London
Windsor Castle
Queen's College, Oxford
Balmoral Castle
Trinity College, Cambridge
(6) And finally, one of these people is said to have been the
originator of the Christmas Card. Can you say who it was?
The Prince Consort
Charlotte, Queen of George III
Sir Henry Cole
Queen Victoria
Sir Joshua Reynolds.
A PUZZLE NEXT An Acrostic. The idea is to answer all the
clues given with words of four letters apiece. If your selections are


correct, the first and last letters of the words, used alternately, will
spell off the name of a game that is very popular at parties. Another
clue this usually precedes the delivery of your Christmas cards.


Something round to swallow
An outdoor game
This brings out the flavour
What the angler needs
Part of a ship
Insect that hops and bites
Don't pay through this
As good as a mile, they say
Token of affection
Legal tender
Wood-wind instrument
Alexander, shortened
This is monarch

You can increase the interest of the above Acrostic by copying
the clues on to paper and passing them round. Then put up a small
prize for the first one to get the right answer.

(See page 254 for Answers)


Creole Tableau

It was early Christmas morning, the tropic skies were gray,
Above the wind-tossed palms the stars so slowly paled away;
The gloom of night still lingered as I passed from street to street,
When round a corner came a group on slow and tired feet.

Beyond me was an hostel, they must have headed there,
I could not see them clearly then, they had not come so near;
But in the waning darkness I watched the pageant pass -
A woman riding with her child, a man who led the ass.

The man he walked so slowly, his figure seemed so bent,
As if their journey had been far and all his strength was spent;
The donkey plodded onwards as always donkeys do,
He needed mnot to know their goal: the man who led him knew.

But the woman in the saddle, her hand clasped round her chila,
How patiently she seemed to sit, how patiently and mild!
And all at once in sudden glow, an eastern star shot wild;
And with its sudden radiance mother revealed and child

She was so young and pretty, and black as ebony,
The child upon her bosom was sweet, and black as she.
They made a perfect picture one instant framed in light,
Journeying to an hostel ere Christmas Day grew light......

And I saw another picture, a sketch of long ago;
Another man and woman journeying through the snow,
Journeying to an hostel upon another ass,
Another little Baby laid on a bed of grass.

And when the group had vanished into the graying gloom,
I prayed they would find shelter and not be told "No room!"
I prayed that small black baby upon his mother's breast
Would find a tender little couch on which to take his rest.



1. The turkey was introduced into this country from America.
2. Germany.
3. Twelfth Night, which is January 6th of course.
4. Italy correct, since the practice arose from the habit of
giving presents at the old Roman new-year festivals.
5. Queen's College, Oxford.
6. There are many stories as to how the Christmas card first
started, and one version is that Sir Henry Cole one of
the organizers of the Hyde Park Exhibition-asked a mem-
ber of the Royal Academy to design him a card in 1846.

The words were pill, polo, salt, bait, mast, flea, nose, miss,
kiss, Coin, oboe, Alec, king: the alternate first and last letters
make 'Postman's knock.'



24TH DECEMBER $2.50 per person
26TH DECEMBER $2.50 "
31ST DECEMBER-- $4.00 4' "
$3.50 "
Bookings only accepted upon payment in advance at lot
2, Croal Street, Georgetown, where tickets will be issued.
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Breathe with the whole world's breath
Come, Saviour Lord, be born
Lay Thou Thy hand on death
This Bethlem morn.

Grace overmatching art,
Love that the angels know,
Beauty within the heart,
Ripen Thou here and grow.


In Bethlehem a Child

The Universe made mild
The blazing stars grown tame
To fit an Infant's frame.

And in those Infant eyes
All Time's foundation lies.

Galaxies of the sun
Their smiling radiance run
By alchemy of grace
Into His baby face.

Folk fellowship, a vast
Circle of heartbeats cast
From the calm eyes we see
Holy geometry.
God now become a boy
Light visible as joy.

And hope for you and me
To gain Eternity.


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Moving Forward With the People

THE DAILY CHRONICLE, now in its seventy-
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to the last man, woman and child; not only in
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throughout the Colony.

THE DAILY CHRONICLE and its Sunday paper
-THE SUNDAY CHRONICLE, are the principal
mediums in British Guiana upon which the
population of more than 400,000 people, depend
for information of the World's happenings and
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WITH an excellent background of reader interest,
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Best Wishes for

accompanied by practical assistance in
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