Spring cleaning you ask? Well, ok, not really. But for lack of a better description it is what goes on in Trinidad during December. Is it Springtime in Trinidad? No. It is however, time to get ready for Christmas and this means some serious cleaning.
Now when we spring clean, we may throw open the windows for some fresh air to clear out all the staleness of a house locked up all winter. We scrub surfaces we normally ignore. We wash curtains. We do all those little tasks that build up over time but are a bit too much to do more often.
In Trinidad the yearly cleaning is quite a bit more intense. Part of it is due to the effect of the tropical sun. Houses are painted, inside and out. Curtains are not merely washed, they are replaced. The intense sun at 11 degrees above the equator has a way of fading paint and causing curtain fabrics to deteriotrate rapidly. As people go about their Christmas shopping, the paint and fabric stores are as full as any other store.
Every corner of the house is swept out and scrubbed. Most houses are surrounded by walls or fences. Even the surrounding walls are scrubbed. Furniture may be re-upholstered. If certain fixtures have been needing to be replaced, if at all possible, people will replace them now. If an addition has been in the process of construction during the year, now is the time to make a heavy push to complete it.
Anyone not engaging in the cleaning/repairing frenzy has their housekeeping and maintenance skills called into serious question during one of the many times friends and neighbors drop over to share a bit of Trinidad Black Cake and Ponche a Creme (traditional seasonal food, more about that in the future). 'Oh gosh, gyal! But I was at Flora's house an' as yet she ain't even bought fabric fuh she curtains!'
The activity rises to a crescendo on Christmas Eve night. Families will stay up into the wee hours, not assembling toys they have bought, but making sure every last bit of dirt has been removed, every hidden nook has been cleared out. Once satisfied that surgery could be performed in any room, folks will finally collapse into bed and dream of the tropical Christmas morn with all it's fresh bright color.