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Jamaica : Irie Christmas


Christmas in Jamaica is no ordinary experience. The people seem happier and kinder and more excited about life. It’s celebrated in many ways, altered to individual liking, some meanings forgotten but most of the traditions have survived. Let me introduce you to a few traditions which you may or may not already know that make up Jamaican Christmas celebrations. –


Christmas Cake – The must have fruit cake soaked with wine. Some prefer the more sobering Christmas pudding.


Sorrel – The traditional drink of the season made from a plant related to the hibiscus flower, steeped or boiled with ginger and laced with rum.


Gungo peas and rice – Prepared instead of the regular Sunday rice and peas.


Big Meals – Never without baked leg of ham and or stuffed baked chicken, but mostly consisting of an excess of specially prepared multi course meals. Often ending with people falling asleep earlier than planned.


Pepper Light – These strings of light are used to decorate homes, businesses, trees, grill-work, blinking everywhere.


Clappers –  Fire crackers start busting as early as November in many places. Not so much this year though, since it is illegal and it scares people. It’s mostly used this time of year especially on Grand Market night.


Grand Market night (Christmas eve) – This is an all night sales celebration, music blaring, and streets filled with people seeking jollification. The only night most children are allowed to stay out until the wee hours of the morning. Usually time spend with friends since the next day is family day.


Family festivals – Family oriented events are planned during the holiday season. Here people take their family to events similar to fairs, which usually end with a stage show that closes off at a decent hour (before midnight).


Dance – Usually parties for adult entertainment with towers of speaker boxes and a lot of alcohol. There are also many stage shows the most popular of which is ‘Sting’ a one night stage show featuring favorite dancehall reggae artiste.


Reggae Carols – We like to put our own twist on carols. The songs about winter snow, and Santa, and reindeer’s, and holly, and ivy, and mistletoe, and jingle bells, and chestnuts roasting, frequent the radios. The Jamaican made ones about a Irie Christmas are played often as well.


Dinner Invitations – After planning the enormous Christmas meal, many invite friends and family over to partake. There are some who visit two or three homes for dinner on this day.


White Wash – The lower parts of trees and some rocks are painted with watered down white paint during the season. This grew to now include the annual house painting in December.


New Stuff –  New stuff for every room in the home or person in the heart.


Jonkunu  – This is a parade of men wearing masks and costumes which represent stories of the African experience. They are usually present at family festivals during the season and most children are terrified of the dancing masked men in costumes.



That was a quick look at our Irie Christmas Jamaican traditions 🙂 However you choose to spend the holidays, I hope it’s enjoyable.


Blessed Love