Old Time Grand Market brings Caribbean-style Christmas to Canarsie

It’s a home away from home for the holidays.

The fifth annual Old Time Grand Market returns this year, and it is coming to Brooklyn for the first time, at the Holy Family Church in Canarsie on Dec. 10. The formerly Queens-based festival is a yearly event that boasts of recreating Caribbean-style holiday traditions to soothe the longing for home during a time where people are celebrating their cultural customs, said the organizer.

“It’s a trip down memory lane,” said Andrew Clarke. “If you’re missing home and not able to afford the high prices of plane tickets to go home, you can come experience a little taste of what a Caribbean Christmas is like.”

The old market tradition is a concept that originated in Jamaica before the rise of more modern trends of last-minute shopping. The marketplace was where people went to make purchases of all sorts of holiday-related treats and gifts, added Clarke.

“It was the last opportunity to go buy your Christmas gift because predating shopping malls, people went to the grand market,” he said.

To bring back this old-fashioned custom, the market is a chance to reconnect people to how it is done back home, along with traditional music and food.

“We want to foster that traditions with cultural performances and celebrate different cultures,” said Clarke.

A showcase of those memories will be on display at the event, with multimedia presentations and edible exhibitions, and the various Yuletide customs from several countries will be highlighted, according to Clarke.

“We have our cultural exhibit and a mini museum that talks about what a Caribbean Christmas is all about, with photos and displays of Christmas cake, coquito, and different things indigenous to each island in celebration of Christmas,” he said.

Vendors there will be selling artisanal wares such as handmade hair-care and beauty products, food, and crafts.

The fest is a celebration inspired mostly by Jamaican culture, but every year Clarke aims to spotlight other Caribbean islands, and this year’s feature will be Guyana and Grenada.

The highlight of the festival is the musical concert, which features folk singers who will take the stage to perform traditional Caribbean seasonal tunes as well as more modern ones such as “The Christmas Song,” Clarke said.

“North American culture is infused with Caribbean Christmases,” said Clarke. “Nat King Cole’s song my not be indigenous or traditional to the Caribbean, but it has been part of the culture for 50 years, and we embraced and will showcase that.”

Performers will include Rory Frankson, Coleen Shand, The Braata Folk Singers, The True Tribute Organisation, and the Quake USA cultural group of Grenada.

“Old Time Grand Market” at Holy Family Church [9719 Flatlands Ave. Corner of East 98th Street and Conklin Avenue in Canarsie, (917) 668-2209, www.braataproductions.com]. Dec. 10 at 4 pm. $25 ($10 for seniors and children).

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