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Christmas in Jamaica
The Fun & Exciting Jamaican Christmas Traditions

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jamaican christmas treeGrandma's 'Chrismus Tree'

Christmas in Jamaica is enviably different! OK, I admit, yes we engage in most of what the western world does but it's sorta sweeter here. 


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christmas_house_decorated_in_JamaicaLavishly Decorated House at Christmas in Water Works, Westmoreland, Jamaica

It includes the...

Keep reading and you'll understand what I mean.

Old Time Christmas In Jamaica?

And what about the traditional Jamaican Christmas? 

Yes, much have changed over the years, to learn about the good 'ole time', traditional Christmas in Jamaica, click here to see Fay Ellington reminisces.

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jamaican christmas lights
christmas lights in jamaica

The Carols

The radio stations start playing carols quite early, sometimes as early as in October! 

We play all the popular carols that you'll probably associate with the western cultures.

  • Silent Night
  • Away in A Manager
  • The First Noel
  • Holy Night
  • Feliz Navidad
  • ...you name them

But remember, Jamaica is the home of reggae music, so you bet; we also do them -Christmas reggae style!

christmas_in_jamaica_tree

New!  Read about Jamaica's Christmas Traditions & this Chrismus dung a yard poem- in Jamaican dialect!

Gift Exchange (Pixie)

Here we call it pixie! And it is mainly practiced in the workplaces, in community groups and some churches, although some families do it as well.

At about a month or so before Christmas, the names of interested individuals are typed on a piece of paper, wrapped securely and placed in a box. Each of the participants will then pick one of the names, who will become his/ her pixie!

That person will be secretly treated daily by his pixie  until the day it culminates, usually a few days before Christmas. These gifts are usually small gift items, tokens, snacks etc.

On the final day, the big final gift (for all participants) is given to the pixie usually to her surprise, as, all along he/she never knew who was gifting him/her.

Persons customize this in various ways to bring more excitement and fun. Sometimes coupling this gift exchange with the Christmas staff party.

Caroling & Carol Services

jamaican christmas carol service

And then there are the carol services, which are a lot more religious and reflective,  usually held at the traditional christian churches and some schools which features a array of Christmas carols, sung by individuals and choirs, lovely!

The University Of The West Indies typically has one each one. Always masterfully done. I actually have a feature on one of the most recent ones, click here to check it out.

Candle lighting may or may not be included as part of the carol services too.

But they are also done independently. My church has a custom of lighting a four different colour candles each Sunday, leading up to Christmas Sunday.

And the 'Caroling'? It is still done, but also not quite to the extent of how it was in the past.

Basically, early on Christmas morning, churches organize their teams and walk around the community singing Christmas carols.

Concerts & Parties

Christmas concerts are very popular leading up to the day, and they are in every area of public domain.

They are in the schools, in the community centers, the workplaces (called staff parties), the squares, and even some of the churches that once denounce the celebrations decades ago.

The parties are never ending!

Traditionally, families go to the town areas and the cities on Christmas Eve-for nothing more than the lights and the thrill!

The traditional 'JohnKonnu"- An African inherited celebration brought by our ancestors, is not too popular in the city areas these days, but that too is quite exciting when held.

Of course, this does not include the many and varied reggae and dancehall shows, which are aplenty here at Christmas. Some of which have become signature events during this time of the year.

Honestly though, that is my main problem with that time of the year- I tend to spend all my money way before the actual day, I'm been honest :-)

And if all the concerts and parties were not enough, there are the Christmas Eve Balls and final parties the night before. Here the merriment continues until daylight.

The Decorations

Christmas in JamaicaDecorations At Fairview, Montego Bay, Jamaica

The decorations start unusually early as well! Houses are painted and 'pepper lights', i.e. Christmas Lights as we call them, goes up, on gates, curbs, cars and even on trees!

jamaican_christmas_houseMandeville, Jamaica: Beautifully Christmas decorated Jamaican home

But wait until Christmas morning!

You will see the most elaborate ornamentation! The newest and best curtains, table cloth, sheet sets, etc. are on display!

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

montego bay Christmas tree lighting ceremony

By about mid December, latest, every parish capital in Jamaica, under the management of it's municipal corporation, formerly called the parish councils, would have hosted an annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.

For many, particularly the children, this is the highlight of their Christmas in Jamaica!

Yes, a symbolic Christmas tree is lighted in the town square, but there are usually a lot more festivities surrounding that, which culminates with live performances by some of the parish and Jamaica's top acts!

clowns at Christmas in Jamaica

And of course, it is free!

You can read about a recent Christmas Tree lighting in Montego Bay here.

Watch Video! Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Here, below are highlights of the recent tree lighting ceremony in Montego Bay. Click The PLAY button below and enjoy!

The Food

Jamaican Christmas Dinner| Backyard Family DinnerJamaican Family Christmas Dinner| Backyard Family Dinner

But perhaps the most telling part of Christmas in Jamaica is the food!

Despite the relative poverty experience by many, everyone seeks to present the most elaborate, expensive and appetizing dishes on the table on Christmas Day.

Curried Goat, Pork, Chicken, Oxtail, all served with Rice and Gungo Peas forms the entree!

Some of the more affluent families do include ham and imported turkey.

And then there is also the sorrel and Jamaican Christmas Cake to top that off. Both, however, requires special care to be done in time for Christmas.  

For the Christmas cakefruits are soaked in red wine and white rum for months before Christmas! Rum is also an integral part of the sorrel punch preparation.

Charity Initiatives

retirement christmas charity treat

Between the fun, food and frolic though, we never leave out the charity. Both individuals and corporations do share the Christmas spirit by giving.

My community club, the Retirement Sports and Social Club, sponsors an annual Children's Treat too. Many public and private sector companies donate freely to this cause at this time of the year.

By the way, I included a few of those Christmas treat pictures from a few years ago on my main pictures page.

Family Reunions

christmas family reunion in jamaicaS'Ida Christmas family reunion in Jamaica

My favourite part of Christmas in Jamaica though is the family togetherness.

The actual day is spent at home-usually at the family home with friends and families.

I can't wait for the family reunions at that time!

My uncle, Tony, cherishes this time of the year. We both sort of assume the lead roles in the annual preparations.

And it not always at the family home. Sometimes we all go out. One year we chartered a bus and went to 'Little Ochie'.

The food was awesome and we had the best of the best - and lots of it :-)

My Nephew in the Bus Family Eating
My Daughter in the Bus Family Eating
Family Eating
Christmas in JamaicaDecorations At Fairview, Montego Bay, Jamaica

So you see, we have no snow nor chimney, but Christmas in Jamaica, while reflective - is a scintillating experience  here in Jamaica land we love!

And yes, I expect someone somewhere will ask so let me answer now, Christmas Day in Jamaica is still December 25 each year. If the 25th falls on a Sunday, then the following Monday, the 26th, is celebrated as Christmas Day.

And by default, Boxing Day would shift down to the next day.

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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities. Read more about him here.

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