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The Brass People's “Greatest Religious Festival”


Enslaved Africans in the Americas celebrated the Christmas holiday in an intuitive way that I argue scholars have not previously noted. For example, in his 1841 trip through the Niger River region William Allen found that the Brass people, associated in some way with the people of Benin, celebrated the “Marocho” at the completion of the sowing season “which occurs about our Christmas period of the year,” writes Allen. He adds it is the “greatest religious festival” with a weeklong of feasting on goat and poultry dishes as well as a steady succession of “dancing, singing, and firing of muskets.” In short, some Africans came to the Americas with a special occasion that included food, music, and dance at the Christmas time of the year. The description of the goat eaten during the Marocho in the Niger River region leads me to theorize perhaps that’s where dishes like curry goat became a part of Christmas culinary lexicon in the Caribbean. Africans introduced goat to Caribbean table and the English introduced the curry from their colonial holdings in East Asia. Here are curry goat recipes below you could use over the Christmas holiday; finding the ingredients these days is much easier than you think if you have a Caribbean community nearby.

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