Christmas Season in the Virgin Islands
Why Celebrating the Christmas Season in the Virgin Islands is always a Great Idea!
Ahoy mates! And welcome aboard! If trading pine trees and eggnog for decorated palm trees and a bowl of rum punch seems like a break in tradition, we here at Stormy Pirates think you should give it a try. Once you do, you’ll be hooked because the holiday season in the islands isn’t merely one day of celebration but rather, weeks of fun parties, interesting shenanigans, and serious celebrations that begin shortly after Thanksgiving and continue into early January.
Celebrating the Christmas Season in the Virgin Islands is always a Great Idea!
December is typically the dry season in this part of the Caribbean with daytime temperatures ranging from the high 70s to the low 80s – perfect beach weather. So why not trade those sleds and ice skates for some snorkeling and sunbathing? There’s no need for winter coats or turtlenecks as shorts and bathing suits will do, and instead of gathering around a yule log, meander over to an open-air bar and watch the sun set.
Don’t worry, there’s no shortage of Christmas lights or decorations. Everything from palm trees to calabash branches are strung with lights and ornaments and traditional carols are performed by school groups and steel drum bands alike. Santa, though, won’t arrive in a sleigh, but rather, in a boat. Check out each island’s lineup of activities and head to the events that sound most interesting.
Did you know that just off the coast of St. Thomas, there’s even a spot called Christmas Cove? It’s a great place to snorkel and the Christmas Day Party in Christmas Cove might just become your next favorite holiday tradition. Pizza Pi, the world famous pizza boat will make your Christmas Day a very memorable one. (Check out our charter schedule to reserve a spot on one of our excursions!)
Over on St. John, there’s a whole month of fun planned – everything from the St. John Brewers’ Annual Ugly Sweater Party to an All-Island Holiday Party (also known as the St. John Prom) at Mongoose Junction to Breakfast with Santa Clause at The Sun Dog Cafe on December 24th.
Looking to combine dinner with a view? Head on over to the waterfront on St. Thomas where you’ll occupy a front row seat to various boat parades known for tossing candy and Christmas treats ashore to spectators. Or, take a commuter flight to St. Croix, where the Crucian Christmas Festival and Carnival will feature street parties, calypso shows, and parades for an entire month – enough to satisfy even the pickiest Bah-humbug relative!
High Season, Low Stress
From Thanksgiving until Easter, the Virgin Islands are in high season, which means restaurants, charter companies, and sightseeing opportunities are fully staffed and open for business. To make your trip less stressful, plan ahead and book your favorite activities before you arrive. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of beautiful beaches, seaside bars, and amazing hiking trails that don’t require any reservations. It truly is a destination with something for everyone.
One special treat this time of year is the Caribbean’s version of eggnog, otherwise known as Guavaberry rum punch. (The guavaberry should not be confused with the guava. The fruit of guavaberry trees is half the size of cherries and yellowish-orange, dark red or purple with a tangy flavor) Every family has its own recipe but each unique version comprises a combination of the berries, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and “secret ingredients.” All of this is placed together in a large glass container and left to mellow for weeks or even an entire year. When carolers come calling,a glass of Guavaberry rum punch is offered in lieu of hot chocolate.
Extra Holidays at No extra Charge!
Thanks to the multicultural aspect of the islands, the Christmas season has a few extra holidays to celebrate, which also means most government offices and some businesses will be closed. Restaurants and tourist-related businesses typically will remain open even on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Boxing Day, also known as the second day of Christmas or St. Stephen’s Day, is celebrated on December 26th. Tradition suggests that the name comes from all the empty boxes discarded after Christmas Day, though history notes that it was on this day during the Victorian era that servants were given their presents in boxes. Either way, it’s an extra day to celebrate the Christmas season. Go ahead and pour another glass of Guavaberry rum punch or indulge in another festive meal at your favorite restaurant.
Three Kings Day is celebrated on the 12th day of Christmas or January 6th. This holiday, which dates back to the 4th century, is also known as Epiphany. On this day, Christians remember the glorification of baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men.
Because Santa Claus isn’t as popular in some parts of the world, the Three Wise men became known as the gift bearers and were known to leave presents in or near the shoes of small children. In Puerto Rico, many children still fill a box with freshly cut grass to place under their beds with a wishlist on top for The Three Wise Men to fill.
While Christmas marks the beginning of holiday celebrations in the Virgin islands, Three Kings Day marks the end of those celebrations. Many islanders mark the holiday by gift giving, special meals, and a treat known as Rosca de Reyes or King’s Cake. This sweet pastry is shaped in a circle to represent a king’s crown.
Hidden within the cake is a small plastic figure representing baby Jesus. Whoever finds the token is obligated to host an upcoming party for Candlemas Day, which occurs each year on February 2nd –so choose your slice of cake carefully!
According to Virgin Island history, Three Kings Day in 1910 had the reputation of being the happiest of the holiday season on St. Thomas, and it was celebrated with parties that went long into the night, often with groups of masqueraders marching down Main Street to the thumping of drums. But the real highlight of the day was the horse races held at Estate Thomas.
Sadly, many of those traditions have been lost. For school children today, it marks the last day of vacation before returning to their classrooms.
End Notes: We here at Stormy Pirates hope we’ve given you a few reasons to celebrate the upcoming holiday season here on the islands. If you enjoyed our post, please share it with others. Then visit our website and book a boat day with Stormy Pirates Charters – we’ll put the gang plank down and escort you in style.