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Jamaican Christmas Traditions 14 Highly Unusual Questions, Answered.

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Jamaican Christmas Traditions Q&A
by Wellesley Gayle 

jamaican christmas treeGrandma's Jamaican Christmas Tree In All Its Glory

Oh yeah, "It is the most wonderful time of the year!" Any Williams

I covered the real essence of what Christmas in Jamaica is like here. But I'm not done yet!

Persons still had questions, and so...

Here are 14 frequently asked question - with answers, about this, the 'funnest', happiest and magical time of the year in Jamaica.

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14 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Jamaican Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas from Jamaica
  1. Does Jamaica Have Christmas?

  2. ANSWER:  Absolutely! We couldn't afford not to :-). Read our detailed response here.

  3. What is Christmas called in Jamaica?

  4. ANSWER:  lol. We say Chrismus.

  1. Is Christmas a popular holiday in Jamaica?
  2. ANSWER:  It certainly is! And not just the most popular, it is the most important holiday in Jamaica, based on its historical context.

    During the plantation era, the three day Christmas holiday that began on Christmas day took on a carnival-like atmosphere here.

  3. What does Jamaica do for Christmas?
  4. ANSWER:  It is the happiest time of the year, but the Christian roots (as in most Christian countries) is still maintained.

    And so, while there are fun, food and frolic is all spheres, all day, for many it is a time of reflection and thanksgiving.

    We also have morning / church services and caroling. Read What do Jamaicans do on Christmas Day?

  5. Does Jamaica have a Santa?

    ANSWER:  Ho ho ho! (lol). We don't have houses with chimneys here, but yes, we have Santa Claus.

    Bear in mind, by the way, that our customs were highly influenced by Europe (Britain in particular) and increasingly now, the USA, so practices there, were and in some cases, still, observed here.

  6. What is Santa called in Jamaica?

    ANSWER:  Historically, we say Faada Chrismus (Father Chrismus)

  7. What do Jamaicans do on Christmas Eve?

    ANSWER: Typically, by Christmas Eve, all decorations are up! But it is the last opportunity to 'Get Christmas right', which means..... shopping.

    Grand Market, as it is called, goes back into the wee hours of the (next) morning, which is Christmas day!

  8. What is Jonkonnu in Jamaica?

    ANSWER: Jonkonnu (a fusion of African and European folk plays) is a band of masqueraders that historically appear in towns and villages during Christmastime.

    The essence of it is music, dance and weird costumes. It is not practiced as is was in Jamaica's past. If it is today, it is for special occasions.

  9. How do they say Merry Christmas in Jamaica?  

    ANSWER: Simple, 'Merry Chrismus'!

  10. Do they have Christmas trees in Jamaica?

     Oh yes, we do! It is a critical element of Christmas celebrations.

    Most of what you'll see around are the imported ones, but we also have locally grown.

    By the way, on that note of Christmas tree. There is a local flower, beautifully bloomed (only at Christmas) that we also call Chrismus Tree

    It is popular in the rural areas. I posted this question, Jamaican Christmas Tree - what is its correct name? I'm hoping that someone who has an idea of what it is, will comment. We already have a few comments, which is great!

  11. When did Christmas start in Jamaica?

  12. ANSWER: Christmas started in the pre-emancipation era in Jamaica, when the entire population, slave and free, got their longest break from labour.

    It was a 3-day holiday that started on Christmas day. It was therefore celebrated even more intensely.

  13. What are some Christmas traditions in Jamaica?

    ANSWER: Freshly painted houses, bright lights, Church services, Nativity scenes, Caroling, Christmas tree lightingChristmas cake, Gungo peas, exchange of gifts, sorrel drink and family reunions are just a few.

    More on this link.

    Jamaican cultural icon, Fae Ellington also spoke about more, be sure to read it in our article at this link.

  14. What are the typical Christmas decorations in Jamaica?

  15. ANSWER: Christmas lights, Christmas trees (Local and European), Poinsettias, Christmas Wreaths and even Pine cones are used here.  Read more in our response post on What are typical Christmas decorations in Jamaica.

  16. How hot is Jamaica in December during Christmas time?

    ANSWER: The daily high (on average) temperature for Jamaica in December is 83.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or 28.39 degrees Celsius. December and January are considered the 'coolest'  - in Jamaican terms :-). Read more on How Hot Is Jamaica - By Month?

  17. What is served at a traditional Christmas dinner??

    ANSWER:  In the past, ham was the favourite, typically cured. 'Christmas beef' or a specially raised chicken featured the day. Turkey is becoming more popular though.

    But for the significant majority of us, it is any of, or combination of; curried goat, baked chicken, escoveitched fish, fried chicken, blue draws, gungo peas and rice (for sure), and of course, the sorrel drink. And here are additional ideas.

  18. Are there any animals associated with the Christmas holiday in Jamaica?

    ANSWER:  Not really. I can't think of one really. If there is one though, it is probably the donkey.

    And that is only because of its importance in biblical teaches on Christianity. The Donkey was used to carry Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Christ was born. You might actually run into one at a dramatization of the nativity scene.

By the way, if you need a bit of inspiration to get into the Christmas vibe, here are some excellent Jamaican Christmas music. Enjoy!

VIDEO 1! Watch Christmas Tree Lighting In Montego Bay, Jamaica (Last Year)

VIDEO 2! Watch Fay Ellington Speaks On Old Time Jamaica

You have received :-)
Now share you new found knowledge with your friends!

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About The Author

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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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You are also invited to join his exclusive JAMHearts community where like-minded Jamaican enthusiasts discuss all things Jamaican. 

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