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What is Jamaica Day about?
I’m a born Jamaican, "I’m a son of the soil, I love the sea, I love the sun, Lord I love this land" -- “Born Jamaican” by Stanley and the Astronauts (1979)
And it is not just Stanley and the astronauts, Jamaicans and visitors from across the globe share a common passion for this beautiful land.
And the land, not necessarily the physical terrain, but our people and culture. The richly blended Jamaican culture is one of a kind!
This same culture has drawn music lovers from across the world to our festivals, foodies to our restaurants, and indeed you to this website.
We take it for granted, but this culture that the world adores and what we enjoy today has been passed down several generations.
Our fore-parents have left this little island with a basketful of dishes, music, dances, and stories that have been passed on throughout the generations.
However, through migration and the advancement of technology, to some extent, we continue to see fragments of our culture being erased.
To keep our culture alive, the Jamaican government has devoted an entire day to celebrating our “Jamaican-ness”. This day is known as Jamaica Day.
Jamaica Day was established as a day for Jamaicans, home and abroad, to celebrate our “Jamaicaness’’ and strengthen our cultural connection by giving citizens a deep appreciation for national heritage.
This, Jamaica Day, is observed annually on the last Friday in February. Locals usually show their support by dressing up in black, green and gold.
Throughout the years, the theme of Jamaica Day has always begun with the words “Celebrating Jamaica…”.
For example, in 2018, the theme was ‘Celebrating Jamaica: Nurturing our Cultural and Natural Heritage’. Thus, implying that the day is all about valuing our culture.
Here is a list of all the themes, and dates celebrated, since 2011.
YEAR Celebrated On THEME
2023 March 3 Celebrating Jamaica, From the Root to the Fruit 2022 February 25 Celebrating Jamaica: Building Character: Hearts through the Arts 2021 February 26 Celebrating Jamaica: Reggae the Message of Resilience and Triumph 2020 February 21 Celebrating Jamaica: Highlighting our icons in the Arts 2019 February 22 Celebrating Jamaica: Embracing Positive Values… Visioning Inclusive Education for a better Jamaica 2018 February 23 Celebrating Jamaica: Nurturing our culture and Natural Heritage 2017 February 24 Celebrating Jamaica: Exploring Our Legacy in a Global Context 2016 March 4 Celebrating Jamaica, Promoting the Arts 2015 February 27 Celebrating Jamaica: Celebrating Regional Friendships... From Boukman to Bolivar 2014 February 28 Celebrating Jamaica: Sporting Greatness In My Community 2013 February 22 Celebrate Jamaica: We On It 2012 February 17 Celebrating Jamaica: Goals for Gold 2011 February 25 Celebrating Jamaica, Feasting on Our Heritage
Jamaica Day at School
Although widely celebrated, the main object of Jamaican Day is the children.
In fact, Jamaica Day is a central cultural program in the education system.
The first Jamaica Day was celebrated on May 2002, with only eleven schools participating.
Now, this annual event is celebrated in every educational institution across the island. Schools uniquely coordinate the day’s activities toward nurturing culture and branding national pride in the hearts of their students.
One of the most notable aspects of Jamaica Day involves the students being attired in traditional bandanas or in Jamaican colors.
Additionally, students are engaged in various activities that help to enhance their understanding of our culture and heritage.
These activities include:
Poetry reciting - Louise Bennett's poems are a popular item on Jamaica Day. Some of her most popular poems include Bun and cheese, Mout-amassi and Colonization in Reverse.
Traditional Dances - Some of the traditional dances that are performed are Quadrille, Cumina, and Maypole.
Skit Performances- Here we see popular Jamaican tales in live and living color. Students re-enact popular Jamaican folk tales and bring characters, such as Anansi, the mischievous spider, to life.
Musical Presentations- Students usually perform traditional folk songs. Some popular ones are ‘Peel head Johncrow’, ‘Mango Time’ and ‘Linstead Market’.
These musical renditions are usually complemented with musical instruments, thus making it a grand performance.
In some cases, there are also flag-raising ceremonies!
Since this day is all about deepening culture, history is important and students are given a glimpse into the past.
Items used “back in the day” are put on display and students are told what use these items had.
Some of these items include:
But what a Jamaica Day without Jamaican food!
Food In Jamaica Day
Some of our favourite traditional dishes are placed on display.
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About The Author
A patriotic Jamaican who adores 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 (and over 1.1millon page views monthly)
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.