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How Do Jamaicans Celebrate New Year's Day?

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer



New Year’s is a time for celebration and Jamaicans do enjoy a good dose of that! We join in with the many other countries in the world to ring in a New Year filled with dreams, goals and a world of possibilities. But just before we head into navigating the new year and what it brings, we take the first day to just celebrate the fact that we have made it into a new year, to begin with. We all have our own special way to celebrate and I’ll share with you some of the most popular ways to celebrate the dawn of a new year like a Jamaican.
  • New Year’s Eve Church Service - Watchnight is an absolute must in some homes. While the practice has lessened over the years you can be sure that the church doors will still be open to accommodate all those who would like to ring in the new year on a more sombre and prayerful note. Church service will usually begin in the evening around 9 or 10 pm. Giving everyone enough time to get to church.

    The congregation will then be led into worship, singing hymns, exchanging testimonies of what they overcame the past year and their goals for the upcoming year. Some churches have concerts at the beginning of the service. A prayer is said by the officiant, most times and then everyone exchanges New Year wishes. Some churches end their service here, while others continue until morning.

  • New Year’s Morning Service - Whether your church held Watchnight services until midnight or in the wee hours of the morning, chances are there will still be a morning service. Some persons run home, shower, eat (if they are not fasting) and head back to church.

    After this final church service, persons will be served cake and hot chocolate before heading back home.

  • New Year’s Parties - If you prefer to usher in the New Year in a more flamboyant way, there are so many New Year’s parties to choose from. From small family get-togethers to large scale events it really is up to you. Most people go to the larger events as they will have fireworks at midnight. It is always a good time to go out with friends and family. Two of the most popular spots are downtown Kingston and Pier 1 Montego Bay.

    Fireworks on the Waterfront in Kingston is a televised event with multiple sponsors and giveaways throughout the night and of course, the main attraction is the fireworks at midnight. Pier 1 is more of a party but still, everyone looks forward to the fireworks at midnight that can be seen and heard from miles away.

    Some hotels participate in the fireworks as well. It is always fun to see the sky alive with lights and know everyone is sharing in your excitement for another year.

  • Trip to the Beach or any other Attraction - This is our last holiday for a while and so many persons take advantage of the nationally recognized holiday to head to the beach. Public beaches are usually packed during this holiday period.

    Most families pack lunches of rice and peas, fried chicken, breadfruit and fish or just buy food from the many vendors at the beach selling jerk chicken or pork, roasted or fried fish with festival or bammy. Sometimes we might head to another attraction too, some of the popular spots are Kool Runnings, YS Falls and Mystic Mountain.

  • Family Reunions - Family members who couldn’t make it for Christmas is usually here by New Year’s.

    That added to the fact that it will be time for us to get back to our regular lives and we most probably will not be able to really see our family members like this again for a while means a proper gathering must be planned. New Year’s Day is the perfect date because almost everyone is free.

    The day is filled with our favourite foods, drinks and a good game of domino, football, cricket or all three.

  • Pantomime - This has been a long-lasting tradition in Jamaica for ages, the pantomime would have begun on Christmas Day and runs until April. Many people join their family or friends for a night at the pantomime.
As another year comes to an end, I wish you all the happiness in the world and I wish you a year filled with many accomplishments. Happy New Year!

I also recommend you read Top 10 New Year's Resolutions For Jamaicans.

Regards,
SS

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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.  

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