It’s the most wonderful time of the year. . . Yes, that’s right Christmas time Bermuda style! A time where Caribbean, British, and Portuguese cultures meet generations of traditions including cassava pie, dominoes, carolling, beach parties, house hopping from St. George’s to Somerset, baking of all sorts of cookies, fruit cakes and pastries and don’t forget about church on Christmas Eve.
A Bermuda Christmas is colourful. Literally, we put multicolored lights on our palm trees. Also, we drop an onion shaped ornament instead of an apple on New Years Eve (homage to the once exported Bermuda onion.) So here is the rundown on Bermuda Christmas. The real authentic version made perfect for families staying at vacation rentals and hotels.
The week before Christmas a lot of preparation goes into the food. My grandmother told me when she was younger her dad would marinate the pudding fruit for months and close to Christmas boil the pudding in the backyard for hours. Though the recipe has changed over the years she still makes the Christmas pudding for the family. See recipe below.
A Bermuda Christmas Dinner usually consists of seasoned turkey, ham covered in pineapples and cherries, peas & rice, fresh carrots, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, stuffing and cassava pie. Each family has their own variation but it usually consists of some of the above.
You will hear Bermudians talk alot about cassava pie and there are many historic versions of how it came to be popular in Bermuda. FYI, Cassava is a root that is toxic in its raw form. It was very popular among Native Americans and was later shipped to the Caribbean by the British (which is most likely how it arrived in Bermuda) decades later. Though there are a few locals growing cassava majority of locals here in Bermuda use frozen or dried cassava from West Africa, Brazil or Colombia.
If you’re visiting for the holidays and want no parts of cooking a fancy meal and clean up head to Beau Rivage Restaurant at the Newstead Hotel.
After Christmas dinner many families will sit around and talk or play games. Depending on what neighborhood you live in the Gombeys will usually make an appearance around the neighborhood. Yes, we follow the Gombey troops until the drums stop.
Try these Christmas family recipes:
2 Packages of Raisins
1 Package of Dates
Grated Nutmeg and Mixed Spices
¾ Candied Peel
4 Cups Grated Breadcrumbs
1 ½ cup of brown sugar
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups rum
1 ½ cups crisco or suet
7 large eggs
3 large apples
Almonds or other nuts
1 tsp of baking flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 blocks Summer County
4 cups flour
10 large eggs
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 lb mixed peel
1 large bottle of maraschino cherries
2 packages of seedless raisins
2 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs lemon extract
1 tsps almond essence
1 cup of Grandmas Molasses
1 cup of Welch’s Grape Juice
Christmas Eve Service
Around the world many Christians celebrate at Church and have a special Christmas programme. Whether Catholic, Methodist, Baptist or Angelican special services bring families together and remind us of the reason for the season. For a soul filled Christmas service Vernon Temple AME will be hosting an evening service from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Christmas Beach Party
When in Bermuda do as the Bermudians do. For the last few years, local and visitors have been bringing in Christmas day with champagne and a beach party at Elbow Beach . The party consists of swimming, socializing and celebrating.
Christmas Cocktails at Bella Vista
Enjoy the ambiance and world class views at Bella Vista Bar & Grill. These colourful cocktails Melony and ELEVATE Escape prepared by Steven Wade are the perfect way to relax over the holidays. Bonus save 10 % off your cheque at Bella Vista, Cafe Amici and Bonefish when you book an ELEVATE managed vacation rental.
Many Bermudian households will spend Christmas night or boxing day house hopping with friends and family. Christmas left-overs, cheeses, cookies, candies and of course wine, dark and stormys, and rum egg nog will be plentiful. If you do not have family here to experience house hopping try party hopping on Front Street. It’s a similar feeling.
New Years Eve in the City and St. George’s Square
On New Year’s Eve 2019 there will be free festivities in St. Georges and the City of Hamilton.
Every year St. George’s shows us how to bring in the New Year with local entertainment, music, food and vendors. When the clock strikes midnight watch the Bermuda onion drop.
On December 31 on City Hall Front lawn the City of Hamilton will also be throwing a block party complete with a live DJ, Free fish chowder, laser tag, and face painting for the kids.
Hotel Festivities & More
Many hotels across the island have Holiday programs with dining experiences and live entertainment. Here are Fairmont Southampton Princess events on December 24th – January 1st.
Also, check out Marcus’ for a classy weeknight cocktail and entertainment. On Tuesdays from 9pm until midnight at the restaurant within the Hamilton Princess Hotel, you can enjoy a late night menu as they turn up the music with 90’s hip-hop and afrobeats.
We wish you a love-filled Merry Christmas! If you are visiting the Island for the first time over the holidays be safe and enjoy the sunshine and of course, the cassava pie.