When it comes to Christmas, the US Virgin Islands are no stranger to festive holiday traditions. The neediest families, for instance, traditionally had a big bone-in ham for Christmas dinner. These hams were bought with pennies saved throughout the year and often received as a gift from a neighbor, employer, or shopkeeper. Many Virgin Islands grocery shops would also give out holiday hams to their customers.
Traditions of Christmas Ham Giving
Traditions of giving hams at Christmas are not uncommon in the US Virgin Islands. Although the tradition is quite old, there are many local variations. Some families prefer ham on Christmas Eve while others prefer turkey with dressing. Hams are a tradition part of Christmas dinner, regardless of their origin.
The Christmas season in the US Virgin Islands is a little different than in most other parts of the world, but the food traditions are similar. Many people celebrate Christmas by attending midnight mass on December 24th and having a hearty breakfast the day before. For dinner, the main dish is typically a ham or turkey with many side dishes, such as rice and peas, or a seafood dish.
In addition to ham, many residents of the US Virgin Islands celebrate Christmas with foods from their pre-Virgin Islands heritage. Deana Mills, a Dominican Republic native, enjoys a traditional Christmas meal that includes fresh meat, trimmings and sweets. She also always eats a fruitcake on Christmas day. Another tradition in the US Virgin Islands is fruitcake, a traditional Caribbean dessert.
Hams were traditionally given as Christmas gifts to the poorest families. Often, the ham was bought with pennies saved throughout the year and given as a gift to someone. Hams were traditionally given as gifts to shopkeepers or employers.
The tradition of giving hams at Christmas in the US Virgin Islands is a centuries-old tradition, and it is a tradition that has not died out over the years. Even though the local food culture has changed, this tradition has not. It is still a popular tradition that people who follow it receive a delicious gift each year.
Inkberry trees are a traditional decoration for the US Virgin Islands. These trees are naturally found on the island’s hillside slopes. They are decorated at different cultural centers. A lit tree can be spotted at the Whim Great House and Museum on St. Croix, where a display was dedicated to the island’s rich culture. The Old Government House Museum, before Hurricane Irma devastated the islands, also decorated its grounds with the tree. The writer documented the Virgin Islands’ Christmas tradition and published it in Christmas cards and a book called Funintun’s Christmas.
In the 1800s, the inkberry tree was harvested for making ink. But today, this tree has become a traditional Christmas tree in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Antigua. The tree was not native to the Virgin Islands, but it does thrive in the island’s rocky soil and can reach up to 20 feet in height. It has thorns that are used for decoration and the branches are sturdy enough to be used as a tree in Christmas celebrations.
The tradition started in the 1960s when islanders from the U.S. mainland arrived on the islands to celebrate the holiday. They began collecting inkberry trees, or the brown dried stalk of an agave or century plant, and adorning them with gold paint and candies. Inkberry trees were not available on the island at that time, so a century plant was chosen as a more sustainable option.
The inkberry plant is another popular Christmas decoration in the US Virgin Islands. The plant grows in the forest of the islands, while the agave plant grows in the arid eastern side. The century plant stalks are propped up in rock-filled containers and decorated by locals with crepe paper, fabric, or small pieces of candy. Some spray paint the stalks with gold.
The century plant is a tall succulent that can survive in dry climates in the US Virgin Islands. Unlike other plants, it blooms only once every 100 years. Botanists say the plant blooms more frequently in northerly climates. During the early summer, this plant blooms and produces massive clusters of yellow flowers, bringing joy to bees, beetles, and beholders.
Sal and Delores Sgambati, owners of the century plant, live in the Capeside subdivision near Snow’s Cut Bridge. The century plant is a member of the agave family and can grow to 30 feet tall. The thorny nature of the century plant means that they are difficult to grow in gardens or homes.
Christmas dinner table
There are many ways to decorate your home during the Christmas holidays. You can use candles and other festive elements to create a festive environment. You should avoid pre-made centerpieces as they can ruin the fun of creating a festive atmosphere. Use Christmas greenery to make the festive setting even more festive.
Using colorful ornaments and other festive accents is another great way to make your house feel festive. In the US Virgin Islands, Christmas dinner traditionally starts with a large bone-in ham that is purchased with pennies saved during the year. This ham is then given to needy families as a gift from a neighbor, employer, or shopkeeper. Some local grocers even hand out hams to their customers.
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