Sorrel Days-A Christmas Steeped in Heritage and Tradition

By Mutryce A. Williams

It’s Christmas time and I have come to realize and accept that my sons won’t get to ‘enjoy’ the sorrel days of yesteryear. I am referring to those ‘joyous’ days of sitting on the steps with a crocus bag of sorrel in front of them, picking the sorrel to make that red delicious Christmas sorrel drink. There would be no complaints that the prickles “juking” their fingers. There would be no whining and wincing because of the itch that comes along with the sorrel picking process. They won’t get to hear, “Well go put on another old long sleeve shirt and pant no man, see if it going help but I hope you know that you not going move until you done what you doing there today, today, today. You are not going to move. You hear me? You hear me? You hear what I say? When you finish, then and only then you can go and play.”
They won’t get to listen in on the haggling over the price of the parcel of sorrel or hear Ma quarrel over why the sorrel man decided to pass by Ms. Lou first and leave her for last. There won’t be a “million and one questions” about the sorrel making process. There won’t be a plethora questions about how many bottles of sorrels will be given away this year and how many we will actually get to drink.
There would be no long faces, snotty noses or half done job when picking the sorrel because they are anxious to run outside and pitch marbles, play cricket or knock bat and ball with the village boys. There would be no trying to “coop away” or shirk their duties knowing that it is Christmas so ‘licks’ around this time would be quite scarce. No there would be none of that, not at all.
As a parent who deeply treasures her Kittitian and West Indian heritage, I realize and I have come to accept that my sons won’t have those days. Most importantly what I have come to realize is that I don’t want them growing up with the idea of Christmas that is being packaged and marketed globally. I want them to know that as young men of West Indian descent that they have a rich and unique heritage. I want them to be proud of this heritage. I want to pass on a Christmas grounded in as much of my heritage and traditions as I could. Sorrel drinking at Christmas time is one of them.
This Christmas there won’t be any tales of Santa or elves but rather, a tale of the sly trickster Br’er Anancy (Anansi, Ananse) and Sorrel. The tale provides an explanation of why we drink sorrel at Christmas time. Listen up here; it is Br’er Anancy we owe this Christmas sorrel drinking tradition to, did you know? Br’er Anancy is who gave sorrel its’ name, because the tasty libation that he accidentally created; trying to fool the masses into thinking that it was red wine, tasted ‘so- real, so-real, so-real.’
This Christmas there would be no picking of the sorrel but thanks to the convenience of the dried sorrel, sorrel tea bag and bottled sorrel drink, my sons will be observing the time honoured sorrel drinking Christmas tradition of their heritage and so many, many other traditions.
Christmas Quotes
“Ask your children two questions this Christmas. First: What do you want to give to others for Christmas? Second: What do you want for Christmas? The first fosters generosity of heart and an outward focus. The second can breed selfishness if not tempered by the first.” Author Unknown
“The Magic of Christmas is not in presents but in His presence.” Author Unknown
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe perhaps Christmas means a little bit more.” Author Unknown
“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!” David Grayson
Recommended Reading for Children
O Christmas tree by Vashanti Rahaman Pictures by Frane Lessac
Round My Christmas tree, An Anthology of Caribbean Christmas Stories, Poems, Recipes and Art Edited by Carol Mitchell
Christmas around the World by Emily Kelley Illustrations by Joni Oeltjenbruns
Mim’s Christmas Jam by Andrea Davis Pinkney Illustrated by Brian Pinkney


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