Images of Christmastime generally show either the scenes around Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, or the adopted North American and European versions of winter scenes and even “Santa Claus”. There is little credence given to the idea of Christmas, and even New Year’s Eve, being celebrated in the rain forests.
But we do! And here at Spring Hill we all work to ensure that our guests who have chosen to be in the forest at Christmastime enjoy our own traditional customs and fare.
Christmas is a “long season” in Trinidad and Tobago. It begins in early November with the traditional songs of the Paranderos, the people who play and sing the music of Parang. This is essentially music of our Spanish heritage, mixed with the rhythms of the first Amerindian peoples. There are songs of Advent, played on guitars, mandolins cuatros (a four-stringed instrument) violins and bass, supplemented with “chac-chacs” (maracas) and “toc-tocs” (claves). The songs are sung in Spanish, and the rhythm is largely Castillian waltz. Traditionally, Paranderos leave their homes to visit neighbouring villages, to sing and play their Parang, and to share in the food and hospitality of their hosts.
On Sunday 18th December, the Calbio Parang Group visited Asa Wright to serenade our guests. They sang the songs of Advent on the main veranda on a clear starry night, to the background sounds of our crickets, night frogs and pygmy owls.
On Christmas Day, our rain forest guests were treated to a day of sparkling sunshine, and enjoyed their Christmas lunch of turkey and ham, complemented with local traditional dishes of pastelles, pigeon peas and rum-soaked fruit cake.
The rains returned for New Year’s Eve, but the Old House at Spring Hill was warmed up with the scintillating sounds of Trinidad’s steel drum music. A small ensemble of steel played music for dancing on the verandah, and our visitors – all from cold climes – were able to dance in the cool open air! A steel rendition of Auld Lang Syne drifted down through the forest at midnight, while fireworks burst in the distant sky beyond our valley.
Happy New Year, from the Rain Forests of Trinidad and Tobago, to all of our wonderful friends!