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What is heritage day in Jamaica?

Tivoli Dance Troupe, JIS Photo

Tivoli Dance Troupe, JIS Photo

Answered by Aneisha Dobson, Associate Writer

If you have visited Jamaica at any point and carefully observed the culture, you will agree with me that that our heritage forms a very important part of Jamaica’s national identity.

The prose and poetry of Ms. Lou, the rhythms, beats and words of roots rock reggae music, the messages of people empowerment spoken by Marcus Garvey, and the legacy left here by our ancestors - African, Europeans, Indian, Chinese and other middle eastern countries, all speak to the rich Jamaican heritage.

And funny enough, it is this unique blend of cultures, history and personalities that gives us a distinct competitive advantage, setting us apart from any other country on the planet!

Ask the millions of tourists who visit Jamaica annually, they just love the Jamaica way!

The leadership of the country knows this, and recognize that it is important that measures are taken to preserve this priceless asset.

But to answer your question, no we don’t have a heritage day in Jamaica, instead we have National Heritage Week - perhaps we have too rich a culture to pack into one single day, lol.

That said, schools have a practice of incorporating a heritage day into their curriculum. This day is usually observed during the heritage week.

Heritage Week In Jamaica

National Heritage Week is celebrated during the month of October, the month the rest of the world celebrates as heritage month.

It is usually observed annually during the week leading up to the third Monday in October. So, this year, 2018, National Heritage Week will be held between October 7- October 15 2018.

Each year, National Heritage Week is given a catchy, appealing theme that encompasses and promotes Jamaica’s heritage.

This year the theme is: “One Love… One Family… One Heritage!”

Throughout the duration of Heritage Week, a series of activities are held island wide that encourages solidarity and rekindles Jamaican pride amongst the population.

The events that take place during National Heritage Week are usually managed by the Jamaica Cultural Development Committee (JCDC), which is an agency of the Ministry OF Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports.

This organisation is usually responsible for the planning and coordination of several cultural events and promoting Jamaica’s culture and history.

Here is a list of activities that usually occur during National Heritage Week:

  1. Thanksgiving Church Services- This is usually the initial event for National Heritage Week.

    It is usually Christian focused, however during Heritage Week 2017 there was an Interfaith Thanksgiving service which was held at the University Chapel at University of the West Indies, Mona which saw other religions participating in the programme.

    There are also:

  2. Floral Tributes
  3. Candle light vigils
  4. Tours of Historical sites
  5. School Tours
  6. Heritage Festivals
  7. Exhibitions and Displays
  8. National Heritage Concert, and...

  9. National Hero’s Day Salute and Awards ceremony – The last day of National Heritage Week is acknowledged as National Hero’s Day, which occurs on the third Monday in October.

    This is usually the last event of National Heritage Week. This ceremony acknowledges those who has contributed to the overall development of Jamaica in one way or another.

In addition, creativity is also encouraged through the duration of this event. The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) is hosting a Heritage Competition which requires participants to utilize their skills to portray Jamaica’s heritage through poetry, posters or photographs.

If you are vacationing during this time, don't miss the opportunity to educate and entertain yourself during the festivities.




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