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Christmas in Jamaica

Christmas in Jamaica

Christmas, no matter how it is celebrated, brings together family and friends to celebrate Christ’s birth. Being predominantly Christian, Jamaica celebrates Christ’s birth and lends its own distinct flavor to Christmas.

Traditional Christmas carols are also sung in the tropical islands in the same way these are sung in almost all countries. Yet to give it a Jamaican flair, a lot of the popular Christmas carols are re-recorded in reggae rhythm. Reggae versions of popular Christmas carols are now acquiring popularity the world over.

Perhaps the most important sign that marks the Christmas season in Jamaica would be the food. Bakers and homemakers start baking Christmas fruit cakes using mixed fruits marinated in wine months in advance, and rum made from locally grown sugar cane. Sorrel, Jamaica’s Christmas drink, is also prepared using sorrel sepal, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, orange peel, and white rum. Served over ice, sorrel is served all over Jamaica during the Christmas season. Celebrating Christmas day in Jamaica is a whole-day feast starting with ackee, salted fish, breadfruit, fried and boiled bananas, fresh fruit juice, and tea. Because of the hearty breakfast which can go on until before lunch, Christmas dinners are served in the early afternoon. Roasted chicken or duck, stewed ox tail, goat curry, ham, rice, and peas are the usual offerings.

Johnkano celebrations, a pagan ritual introduced by African slaves that highlight masked dancers and musicians are also celebrated in some of Jamaica’s rural areas. A lot of houses are painted, and homeowners hang new curtains and western Christmas decorations such as wreaths, tinsel, and Christmas lights. Santa Claus, a western Christmas concept, also adorns houses and shop windows. This is despite the fact that Jamaican houses do not have chimneys where Santa usually descends! In some rural communities, Santa Claus delivers his gifts riding a cart pulled by donkeys.