Yes its that wonderful time of year! Where for Jamaicans “The Christmas Breeze” is felt all around the country. You see flashing Christmas lights on houses and trees, there are Christmas Carols playing on almost every radio station, and there are Christmas deals in stores! Yea Shopping! However What is Christmas really like in Jamaica?
Jamaican Christmas Vocabulary
First lets get to know some words Jamaicans use during Christmas season.
- Chris’Mus Breeze (Christmas Breeze)
Yep we said it before, its always hot in Jamaica but during late November to January, it gets a bit cooler, and we sure enjoy the climate at that time! Many visitors to Jamaica may still think its hot, but in fact its the best time to travel to Jamaica as you wont get to feel too much of the Caribbean Sun!
- Happy Christmas! (Merry Christmas)
We actually use both interchangeably. Its just saying to Enjoy your Christmas, we normally pair this with “and a Happy New Year!” as well as we say “Season Greetings” which means best wishes for the Holiday season!
- ChristMas Dinna (Christmas Dinner)
The best part…or almost the best part of Christmas is the Christmas Dinner! We celebrate this with our family and friends. We will go more in details later on!
- Jonkanoo (John Canoe)
A custom where people revel in the streets dressed up with costumes and masquerades .This parade may have been passed down from African slaves. Jonkanoo is seen mostly at Christmas time nowadays as entertainment, nonetheless in rural areas it may be still kept as tradition.
- Grand Market
This is a usually celebration on Christmas Eve. Many vendors line the streets with toys and Christmas gifts, as well as regular vending items. Many persons travel to Grand market for last minute shopping before Christmas, to get deals, to catch sales, and to just enjoy the activities. Grand Market normally lasts all night until Christmas Morning. There are also many activities and entertainment lining the night.
Christmas in Jamaica
Christmas in Jamaica is celebrated on December 25th. This came from the strong Christianity presence in Jamaica. The Christmas customs and traditions are passed down from this teaching and strongly observed on this day and during this season. Christmas day is normally a church day, where families go to church in the morning and celebrate the birth of Christ, pray for a happy and prosperous new year, and as a usual in church give tithes and offering.Christmas night is Family time, though some people may prefer to go out to events, there will be a small selection on this day. The days for going out to have fun, or celebrate the season is normally “Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New years Eve and occasionally New Years Day.”
On Christmas night families either exchange gifts (that’s if everyone hasn’t already pretended to be Santa and hid it under the tree or your pillow) or they enjoy family time, drinking, eating and playing games.
Yum Yum! The Christmas Dinner is one of the best dinners to look forward to. Its like the Jamaican Thanks Giving!
Dinner normally includes Chicken, whether fried, baked, stewed, curried…Jamaicans love chicken! Oxtail, roast beef/pork, curry goat, roast ham, and rice and peas (either red peas or gungo peas). No not all of the above is usually used but some.There will also be a side dish of salad, whether potato salad, macaroni salad, or coleslaw.
Then there is the Drink! Sorrel! This is made from a meadow plant, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel and RUM! or some may have less ingredients with the meadow leaves. But it sure tastes great especially with the Rum for all the drinkers in the house!! This is normally served Cold!
The Christmas Cake
The Jamaican Christmas cake is normally a fruit cake soaked with rum (yes you are hearing the word rum/alcohol quite often right? but it is indeed a celebration).
Past Christmas traditions were changing curtains etc to make the house “pretty,” decorating the outside and inside with Christmas lights, along with your Christmas tree (which is normally plastic), white washing walls and the bottoms of trees, cutting trees hedges and lawns, and Jamaicans dressing up in their “best suit” for Christmas day. Note best suit refers to their cutest or newest outfits.
Christmas is truly a great time to be in Jamaica, aside from the wonderful entertainment around town and the lively streets, the food is amazing!!