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The Busy Month Of December (Part Two)

By Angel Nuñez

“Oh yes, the month of December is a busy month today, way too busy.  But don’t you ever think the month of December or the Christmas month was not busy twenty five years ago, except that in a different way.”  This was the introduction of my article last week, but there is more on the preparations for Christmas. (Part Two)

Most homes in the village were also busy in the kitchen.  I would say that about half of the population of moms prepared the black cake or cake with mixed fruits, and the other half did their regular cake, but there “must” be cake at home for Christmas.  This cake was served to any visiting child or to ladies who visited.  It was served along with a glass of strawberry pop; we used to call it lemonade but it was not a lime drink.  A Christmas without cake was not a complete Christmas.

Potato and Rice Wine Making in preparation for Christmas

Now let’s talk about the gentlemen.  They were not concerned about cake, but were deeply involved in the making of wine- that is potato or rice wine, and those fortunate guys who got their cashews also did their cashew wine. Wine was an integral part of the Christmas preparations because it was a custom for folks to visit home to home and wine was the logical thing to offer, but in the absence of a prestigious place like Wine Divine, the folks had to use their brewing skills in the preparation of their wine.

Now let’s go back to the kitchen as it would seem that a main part of Christmas was spent in the kitchen. About a week or two before Christmas dad would kill the home-grown pig that was reared in the backyard.  Of course this meant enjoying pork, and blood pudding (morcia), pork sausages (longaniza) and more dishes.  But the main cut of pork was reserved for the preparation of the Christmas meal, which was the famous Chicken Relleno, which was a large chicken or rooster stuffed with ground pork and prepared in a black soup with black recado seasoning. The village Mestizo women and men too were experts in the making of this delicacy-relleno which is still cooked in many Mestizo homes.  As you can see, this also meant killing of several chickens also home-grown in the backyard.  I vividly recall my brother and I fighting for the rights to be the chicken executioners.  We delighted in wringing their necks and de-feathering them, not for the sake of killing but in the eager anticipation of the mouthwatering chicken relleno.

Chicken Relleno Negro for Christmas 

Oh, what fun it was to prepare for an old fashioned Christmas back in the 1950’s when there was no refrigeration, no ice and no pork or beef on the island or frozen chickens either.  “You better Belize It” that a long time of fish, ham and chicken relleno made anyone feel like king twenty five years ago.

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