Christmas is one of the top holidays worldwide. The feast is celebrated by Christians in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. All over the world, people have different ways of celebrating this holiday.

On the Northern Mainland of South America, sits Guyana a sovereign state also included in the Caribbean region due to its strong cultural ties with countries in that region. Guyanese have a special place for Christmas. A friend in Guyana recently told me that each year, two to three weeks before Christmas, families invest heavily in giving their homes a facelift.

The understanding of Christmas among the Guyanese

But why do families clean their homes around Christmas yet the same houses are cleaned daily or weekly throughout the year? My Guyanese friend opines that it could be a tradition or a practice induced by the urge for competition.

The cleaning involves whipping of walls and repainting, cleaning and replacing windows as well as fixing the floors. Previous year’s varnish on furniture is sandpapered and replaced with new. Starting mid-November in Guyana tailors switch to making new curtains and chair coverings. On rare occasions, those that cannot afford new curtains have the old ones cleaned, ironed and kept ready for Christmas.

According to a post on by Guyanese priest Dr.

Henry Chan, the main thrust of the Christmas Celebration among the Guyanese is to have the best home for baby Jesus Christ. The home has two dimensions: the inside and the outside. “To Guyanese, Christmas is symbolic of new birth within one’s soul as well as the remembrance of the birth of the baby, Jesus.” Notes Dr.


Costly Christmas preparations and special dishes

A majority of those who spend a lot during Christmas are the poor; they end up entering the New Year broke after spending all their December salary and earnings on Christmas preparations and festivities. This kind of spending, according to Guyanese source, is unnecessary in Guyana where the basic cost of living is estimated at $500 against a basic monthly salary is $250.

Although there exists a section that earns a monthly salary of between $500 -800, the debate on how much should be spent over Christmas will not stop people from welcoming the joy of Christmas in style and in line with their traditions.

Special dishes characterize Christmas celebrations in Guyana and Christmas would be incomplete without pepperpot - a stew containing beef parts such as shanks totters and tails as well as garlic pork. Preparation for these two dishes begins a couple of days or weeks before Christmas just as is the case with the face-lifting of homes.