is the evocative name for a fairly laid-back celebration of the final days before Christmas, unique to St. Vincent in the South Caribbean. The general idea is to meet up with friends for some sort of early morning activity (and I do mean early!) on each of the days.
During our years there we enjoyed a few pre-dawn swims and occasionally went carol-singing at 4am, but on the whole there was some resistance in the church to engaging with what had, by then, become a largely secular, and not altogether respectable, festival. (You can read more about the origins and current practices here.)
The idea of another milestone along the Advent journey appeals to me, so I still mark these final nine mornings in some way or other – even twenty-one years after our first Caribbean Christmas. So be prepared for a few more Caribbean reminiscences and images in the coming days.
As folk here in Glasgow have discovered that we spent eight years with the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas, people have asked if we miss that life. I must admit that on some of the “dreich” wet days we have had, the memories of carol singing in sandals and shorts and swimming in the sea during Advent have had a certain appeal! Strangely, however, I am enjoying these short, dark days.
The tropical pattern of twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness is wonderful for bringing up small children – they soon learn to get up when it gets light and go to bed when it gets dark – but one aspect of life in the temperate zones which I really missed during those years was the changing length of the day, with all the poetic evocation of seasons and rhythm. For us in the northern hemisphere, it seems so appropriate that we prepare to welcome the Light of the World during these dark days.
Do share your ideas for marking these final nine dark mornings before Christmas… Jill