Top 10 Uniquely Jamaican things to do
Christmas cake and Sorrel
Every culture has their favorite items for Christmas. In Jamaica, this is definitely our Christmas cake, which is a rum-soaked, dark fruit cake with a dense pudding consistency. Sorrel, a drink made from hibiscus flowers, is also a favorite Christmas drink that’s often spiked with rum.
Fried Fish and Bun and Cheese for Lent
With a society rooted in the Christian religion, Jamaicans observe the Lenten season by refraining from meat and alcohol. They consume a diet of fish and a bun and cheese over the Easter holidays.
This is a celebration at the home of the deceased on the ninth day after passing. On the ninth day, the funeral is held. It is an African tradition where food and rum are abundant, along with songs of praise and dancing. These cultural rituals are performed to encourage the spirit of the deceased to move on.
Remember when you would go back to school with new clothes and trappings at the start of each school year? Jamaicans take this one step further by giving small children a “washout," an herbal tea and worm medicine to cleanse the insides as part of their back-to-school preparations.
Stalls and outdoor shops take to the street sides every Christmas at designated spots to peddle their wares. It’s a festive atmosphere with music, food, and a lively vibe that culminates on Christmas Eve and provides late-night entertainment and shopping for families.
At Grand Market, the Jonkanoo Festival can be seen parading through the streets. Believed to be an African tradition transplanted during slavery, performers in outrageous costumes that are often frightening, dance to traditional music through the streets.
Obeah was a tradition rampant in Jamaica. The practitioners were sought out to help their customers bring bad luck to their enemies, “tie” their lovers to them forever, or to help procure a winning verdict in a visa effort, court case, or some other event of significance.
White Rum Cures
White rum is a solid part of Jamaica’s culture, not just for its imbibing qualities, but even more so for its purported abilities to heal ailments. It’s believed benefits vary from curing the common cold to warding off spirits in a haunted home.
When you’re ailing in Jamaica, the usual community prescription is to “go drink a little tea.” There’s a tea that cures everything here, from fever to upset stomach and diarrhea.
When Jamaicans migrate overseas, the family members left back home can always look out for their barrel of foreign goods packed over a year’s time and often sent home for the Christmas season. The barrel is packed with items such as clothing, grocery items, and toiletries.
- by Monique Solomon