Thursday, 6 December 2012

Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago: The music

I am from Trinidad and Tobago which I have said before and growing up I have always loved Christmas and the lead up to Christmas. At Christmas time even the chores are fun and trinidadians know how to prepare for Christmas. We don't have the white Christmas and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, what we have is different and specifically us. So in these weeks leading up to Christmas I am going to touch on little things that I think make Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago special. This song says it all Trini Christmas is de Bess

I am going to start with the music because well that starts way before and Trinidad has it's own music for Christmas. Parang. Although Trinidad is an English speaking country we celebrate Christmas in Spanish.
Traditional parang sings about the Virgin Mary and the birth of Christ. Parang season starts somewhere in October/November. The "real" parranderos (parang singers) are from areas like Lopint, Paramin, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa. Even if you can't speak Spanish you can sing parang, the Lady of Parang, Daisy Voisin couldn't speak a word of Spanish but sang it beautifully.
Traditional Parang comes in a few categories:
Aguinaldo/Serenal : Parranderos sing the arrival of the season. (Sereno Sereno)
Anunciacion : Sings about the Angel Gabriel giving the good news to the Virgin Mary. (Le Anuncio)
Nacimiento : Sings about the birth of Jesus and the three kings. (El Nacimiento)
Despedida : Parranderos sing the farewells of the season. (Vamos Vamos Vamos)
Soca parang  or parang soca is a derivative of you could say of parang. It does not necessarily have the reverence for the season and it's meaning that Traditional parang has. It is also not totally in Spanish, there are some that are good and a lot that is totally bad.

We sing the traditional carols but along with learning Silent Night we also learn Vamos Vamos Vamos. We don't go caroling we go paranging regardless of what is actually sung, if anything. Paranging is also used to describe just showing up at someone's house during the Christmas season to visit and eat.