By Maya Doyle-Fox.
All images courtesy Maya Doyle-Fox
It’s that time of the year again as homes across Trinidad prepare to celebrate A Trini Christmas! This year we will be taking you to the village of Lopinot to enjoy the past and present traditions of this heritage-rich community. Nestled in the foothills of the Northern Range, Lopinot is a village named after Charles Joseph Count de Loppinot who is given the credit of developing this estate into a prosperous cocoa plantation.
Count de Lopinot was known to be a cruel and abhorrent slave master, a dark face of the Lopinot history, however light will always shine through the cracks, as out of this controversial beginning for the Lopinot village a beautiful mixed heritage is now commemorated and passed down. Pieces of this heritage come in the form of Christmas Traditions shared by the families of the Lopinot community.
- Picking fresh sorrel from your backyard garden is the norm during Christmas time in Lopinot. Putting your water to boil, steeping your fresh, local sorrel, adding the sugar, spices and rum to make the most thirst-quenching drink for you and your family to enjoy at the merriest time of the year-this is enjoyed across the village.
- Alike many places in Trinidad and Tobago, Lopinot has its own traditional way of making pastelles. Pastelle with no raisins or capers, filled exclusively with beef and pork mixed and perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs and spices plucked from the garden. The pigs used for the pork are bred locally too! They would be harvested for the occasion and the river located behind the community would be used to clean the meat.
The pastelle making process is a whole community affair as neighbours, friends and family would make a day out of it and join the pastelle-making lime. Many local residents also sell their unique pastelles locally and to external customers. Have you tried a Lopinot Pastelle yet?
- Do you hear the sound of a cuatro strumming through the Christmas air? Well in Lopinot it was usual for the Local Parranderos to go from house to house singing parang to the delight of the community. It became so popular that other communities would outsource the local Parranderos to visit their communities and liven up their neighbourhood for the Christmas season.
- A staple for a Lopinot Christmas was definitely Pigeon Peas! Picking your peas from the garden, bagging out the peas in your kitchen and delivering to the market, not to mention incorporating pigeon peas in your Christmas meal are all a major parts of a Lopinot Christmas routine.
A place of rich history and heritage, Lopinot, is home to one of Trinidad’s most picturesque sites, the Lopinot House which is situated within the Lopinot Historical Complex, and is a listed property of Interest protected under the National Trust Act. Containing a large cocoa tree population, the village ambience and hospitality of Lopinot reminds you of a time long ago almost taking you away from the hustle & bustle of the nearby urban cities and towns. This Christmas, take a trip with your family and friends to visit Lopinot, take a picnic on the Lopinot estate, visit the Lopinot Historical Complex and try a Lopinot Pastelle.
Enjoy the various seasonal traditions our colourful country has to offer this Christmas! The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous New Year.