How It’s Done: Vincentian Christmas Lunch/Dinner
My first memory of Christmas was when we lived in Layou, that coastal village town on the south western tip of St. Vincent. We lived in a two-storied house that was fashionable at that time: made of concrete downstairs and a wooden upstairs. It was located just around the bend past that delicate little stone-wall church in the corner as you entered the village from the Kingstown direction. Our neighbours were the Palmers.
Mommy had boiled the picnic ham, then baked it in the outside drum-oven; the ham was golden brown with cloves stuck artfully into its tender skin. My big brother was tasked with taking it upstairs, having to walk up the flight of concrete stairs. He might have tried to pick a piece of the loose meat, or maybe he was overwhelmed by the honour bestowed upon him; either way, the next I remember, we all squealed with horror and anger, as the dainty ham came crushing down to the sandy ground.
There is a gap in my memory in regards to the rest of that day, but we must have all recovered well from the trauma of the tumbling ham; because the next I remember, was me lying in bed, feeling very full as my mother gently massaged my tummy with a feather. She sang a verse that I recall up to this day:
“Kerry belly swell, Kerry belly swell,”
There was little more to the song; but I understood that the intention was to relieve my indigestion that had come about due to overeating and I assume, over drinking.
I have had the pleasure of singing the ‘Belly Swell’ Song for my own daughters, when they too, as little girls had fallen captive to the indulgence of the Vincentian Christmas Lunch/Dinner and had ended up with distended tummies.
Yet, to do otherwise is simply not considered appropriate at Christmas: even for those of us who are now mature and have transformed from the skinniness of childhood and early adulthood, to a more almost rotund body stature.
We may vow to cut down on our portion sizes, but there are simply too many savoury dishes to be sampled; then the Fruit Cake, Black Cake, Sorrel, Ginger-beer; Red Wine, Black Wine, and all the other culinary delights which tempt our appetites, enticing us to try just a little bit of this and a little sip of that.
It is what it is, and so in spite of breaking all my preset dietary rules for Christmas 2016, I’m thankful for the feelings of pride that the season brings to SVG. This has been a challenging year for many of our citizens, and so we at take this opportunity to wish all a Blessed, Peaceful, and Prosperous 2017.
Photos by Roselle Solomon exclusively for Express Vinci®.
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