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14 Common Jamaican Superstitions

by Deon Clarke | Associate Writer



Are you superstitious? Do you believe in omens? Is it fact or fiction? Or, is it a myth? Jamaicans are superstitious people by nature. Many of these long-held superstitions have been passed down through generations. Superstitions permeate varying aspects of Jamaican life. Whether, it’s through dreams, signs occurring from nature or even human error, Jamaicans believe there’s a reason for them, signalling great doom or happiness that lies ahead. I must admit, as a child, I heard some of these and I was scared out of my wits and now I am so happy to learn that they aren’t true...or are they?

You wouldn’t believe some of these! So I’ll share some with you today. So here goes:
  1. Opening Umbrella – It is believed that if a woman opens an umbrella and stands underneath it inside the house when it is not raining, then she won’t get married.

  2. Lizard and Pregnancy – It is believed that if a lizard jumps on a woman, it is a sign that she is pregnant.

  3. Fish and Pregnancy - It is believed that if a close family member dreams about fish, then someone in the circle is pregnant.

  4. Left Eye Fidgeting – It is believed that if someone’s left eye is fidgety or “jumping”, then someone is talking bad or gossiping about them or they are going to cry.

  5. Sneezing – It is believed that if someone sneezes, their partner is being unfaithful to them. Persons are often teased to check up on their spouses when this happens. The Jamaican terms “bunner man, matey, Joe Grind all refer to a partner being unfaithful.

  6. Washing Face With Rice Water – It is believed that if someone wants to see a ghost or “duppy”, they can wash their face with rice water and this will surely happen.

    You can check out this spooky encounter with a duppy here:

  7. Itching Palm – It is believed that if your right palm itches, you will receive money very soon but if your left palm itches, you will be spending instead.

  8. Cravings and Pregnancy - If a pregnant woman is craving for something (usually food), and scratches a part of her body, the baby will show that mark at the spot on theirs if she doesn’t get it. This is said to happen within the first three months of pregnancy.

  9. Baby Protection – It is common practice to dress a newborn in red as it is believed that dressing a baby in red, putting a red cloth on their forehead or tying a red string on its hand, will ward off evil spirits. It is also believed that when leaving a baby alone, you should open the Bible at Psalm 23 and placed it over its head.

  10. Death And Nine Night - It is believed that when a person dies, their spirit leaves their body and roams about, but returns to the home on the ninth night of death.

  11. Death Of A Loved One – It is believed that when a partner dies, a kerchief is cut in two, and one half placed in the coffin and the statement, 'keep your half and stay away' is said by the surviving partner. The surviving partner pins on the other half and wears it for four months. It is also very common for the surviving partner to wear red or black undergarments for the same period of time to prevent their deceased partner from 'visiting' them. Babies are passed over the casket at the graveside especially if the deceased person had been very fond of the infant. This is to prevent their spirit from playing with the infant after death.

  12. Broken Glass – It is believed that when a glass is broken its bad bad luck. It is also believed that you should not keep broken glass inside your home as it will bring bad luck.

  13. Graves and Grave Digging – It is believed that at a grave digging, an odd number of persons should do the digging, and each time one finishes, he should have a drink of rum. It is also believed that if you point at graves, you should bite your 10 fingers or they will rot.

  14. Impotence - It is believed that if a man has a papaya tree in his yard, he will become impotent.

I could go on and on as there are so many more. How many of these have you heard? You will be surprised to know that some persons believe some of these to be absolutely true and yes, they will have stories to tell you why this is so too. I just think whatever is meant to happen will happen, sign or not, lol. What about you?

I also recommend you read Jamaican Folklore Exposed! 53 Surprisingly Common Beliefs & Practices.

Regards,
DC

References:
  • 11 superstitions (many) Jamaicans live by, Loop Jamaica, https://jamaica.loopnews.com/content/11-superstitions-many-jamaicans-live
  • Jamaican Folklore | 53 Shockingly Common Jamaican Folk Tales & Beliefs, My-Island-Jamaica, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_folklore.html
  • Pieces of the Past: Out Of Many Cultures: Deadly superstitions, Gleaner Jamaica, https://old.jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/index.html

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