Christmas in Jamaica is a mix of non stop parties, Jonkonnu, Grand Market, Christmas carols always sung to a reggae beat . . . and what's known as the Christmas Breeze
During the holiday season you will find a party just about everywhere throughout the island. It's also a time for families to gather for a large traditional Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, attend church, head out to the beach - and attend another party!
Jamaicans say the weather starts getting "crisp" around November, and a cool breeze starts to blow throughout the island.
LOCAL CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Christmas carols are always sung to a reggae beat, and songs can be heard on speakers throughout the island. Caroling is a popular tradition, and Christmas carols such as Silent Night take on a lively reggae beat.
Most Jamaican reggae artists are home for Christmas, and concerts feature popular dance-hall stars like Shabba Ranks, Black Uhuru, Robby Shakespeare, Shaggy, Melody Makers, and Sly Dunbar.
The Grand Market is like a community fair with food, crafts, music, street dancing and the place to purchase food for Christmas.
This old tradition is held in the capital city Kingston, and other parishes around the island. The market vendors sell all kinds of sweets including cakes, candy, along with balloons and small toys.
Called Junkanoo, Jonkonnu (or John Canoe) - This traditional Christmas celebration has been part of Jamaican culture for hundreds of years.
The Jonkonnu revelers parade through the streets in colorful masquerade costumes. The traditional characters wear white mesh masks, and go by the names of the horned cow head, policeman, horse head, wild Indian, devil, belly-woman, and pitchy-patchy.
The origin is believed to originated from the Gold Coast of Africa, and in the past the characters would scare the children as they roamed in the countryside soliciting money as they beat drums, and played the flutes and tambourine. Today Jonkonnu is usually performed on stage, and remains an intricate part of the Jamaican culture.
The National Pantomime takes place on Boxing Day (day after Christmas) in the capital of Kingston. Sting, the infamous dance-hall stage show takes place on Boxing Day night.
Jamaican churches are decorated with bright lights, fresh picked poinsettias, Christmas trees, and the traditional nativity scene. During the month of December there are numerous concerts and Christmas plays.
Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is observed by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, and locals also attend early dawn services on Christmas Day.
Traditional Christmas FoodChristmas Day breakfast favorites are ackee and saltfish, breadfruit, fried plantains, and boiled bananas with fried dumplin.
Dinner is a big feast with a number of meat dishes such as stew chicken, curry goat, jerk pork, roasted ham, stewed oxtail. and fried fish with rice.
Throughout the year rice and red beans are served, but at Christmas rice and gungo peas are the specialty as the peas ripen in December. Other favorites include roasted potatoes/vegetables, potato salad, and cole slaw.
Happy Holidays & Safe Travels
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