“I have forgotten much, but still remember the poinsettias red, blood red in warm December…” how many a Caribbean national living in the Tri-State area without a hope of going back home for the holidays often think on McKay’s words. The separation from one’s land of birth at Christmas can take quite a toll on the psyche. For those who turned out in their numbers recently at the Holy Family Church Auditorium in Brooklyn, the yuletide nostalgia of a warm Caribbean December was turned all the way up! Everything flowed like fountains of fine wine, from the food, to the gifts, to the performances.
The sound of drums, flute, and grater welcomed the patrons as the Jonkanoo revelers exploded with electrifying energy into the hall – the Set girls, House Boat, Pitchy-Patchy, Bellywoman, Jack in the Green and Devil were all on hand with all the characters to twirl, jump and spin their way into our hearts. With such a wonderful beginning, the evening only got better as more people streamed into the venue. Kizzy’s Playhouse representing Trinidad & Tobago brought us drama, song and dance, as did the Garifuna Performing Arts Company from Belize (by way of St. Vincent & the Grenadines), Haitian-American artist Smax, the powerful Andrew Clarke, and the ever-popular Braata Folk Singers with a sterling Christmas Caribbean suite. It was Ophelia Carter direct from Jamaica who brought the house, and the curtain down with patrons dancing in aisles and on their way out. Among the booths added this year was FaceVu TV where patrons were recorded sending greetings to their loved ones and friends to be broadcasted online and on a local access television. This will definitely be talked about as one of Braata’s best Grand Markets yet.
Braata is developing quite the track record for these kinds of events that promote Caribbean Folk Culture while stirring within its patrons a sense of pride about their native Caribbean territories. Every Caribbean island was represented in some shape or form, from cuisine, to song, dance and drama, and the wide variety of vendors to the latest enhanced feature this year: the mini exhibition. Braata hopes to expand on this in the coming years with more images and displays reflecting the rich, diverse way the holidays are celebrated in the Caribbean. Despite the snow that fell for most of the evening, it is truly a testament to the Braata brand that they were able to almost fill the hall to capacity. If you hadn’t come through the snow on your way to the venue and braved the frigid temperatures, you wouldn’t have known that there was inclement weather because inside the Holy Family Auditorium it was pureness!