Ava-Ann Wait is back with some holiday cheer from the island of one love. Read on for tales of curried goat, street dancers, Jamaican fruit cake and, of course, Reggae-inspired holiday songs for a true Christmas in Jamaica.
Christmas in Jamaica is very similar to everywhere else in the world with decorations and festivities. The only difference is the climate and cultural practices. Christmas is considered a time when families get together so Jamaicans living abroad usually come home to celebrate with loved ones. Jamaica is a tropical island so we do not have cold winters. Due to this, Christmas is considered a part of the peak tourist season as a lot of visitors come to soak up the sun and enjoy the festivities.
Every country has traditions and Jamaica has interesting ones of its own. At Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated as Jamaica is mostly a Christian island. Jamaicans look forward to going to church on the Sunday or Saturday following Christmas Day. They normally wear their best dress to church on those days and sometimes worship services begin as early as 6 a.m.
In Jamaica, the main event in Christmas happens on Christmas Eve: the Grand Market. This is the most exciting day for everyone. It is a day and night event where everyone goes shopping for last minute items and every town is buzzing with music. Some sections of the towns are blocked off to facilitate vendors and shoppers. Children spend money on all sort of candies, toy cars, dolls, whistle, dolls, sunglasses, etc. They also get their faces painted and get a chance to sit on Santa’s lap.
As night falls everyone heads to the town squares where street dancers, stage shows and shopping is still in full swing as stores are open beyond midnight. This is usually a night for the children as they are given pocket money for rides such as merry-go-round and go-carts. Local food vendors come out in numbers with jerk pans, soup & hotdog stands, roasted corn and many more. The festivities last until the wee hours of Christmas morning.
A traditional Christmas for Jamaicans dinner has to have curried goat, chicken or ham, rice and peas and salads. The most favored drink is sorrel and, of course, there is always a Christmas fruit cake for desert. Sorrel is made from the flowers of a bushy shrub which is a part of the hibiscus family. Water is boiled and poured on the flower to extract the flavor and color. Ginger, sugar and rum is added and the beverage is sweetened to taste. It’s then cooled to make a refreshing drink. The Christmas cake is made from mixed dried fruits, spices, flour, rum or wine and baked in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for approximately one hour.
Jamaicans look forward to this event as all families come together to cook, eat, tell stories, laugh, dance and just have a fantastic time.
Another tradition by Jamaicans as well as the entire world is the singing of carols. At the ending of November through to December, you can hear Christmas carols being played on radio stations, in homes, at business places and people humming the words of these songs. It is guaranteed on Christmas morning nothing else will be played, it’s wonderful carols all day.
Come celebrate Christmas Jamaican style and check out our list of tours at www.amstardmc.com for some exciting holiday adventure!