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What is Jamaican Etiquette?
10 Social Rules To Follow In Jamaica

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jamaican_maroon_charlestown_visit_team_photoWhat Is Jamaican Etiquette? | The Charles Town Maroons

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Jamaican are known for having a warm, friendly, open and welcoming persona. And that is pretty true, however, this is not true for every Jamaican, and sometimes depending on the environment, Jamaicans can be less casual and more formal. It’s important to be ready for whatever situation you are in, so here are some basic rules of Jamaican etiquette that you should know.

  1. Jamaicans are respectful and they expect the same in return, so always acknowledge and return greetings. As a general rule of thumb, address a person by the name or title that they introduced themselves.

  2. Jamaicans are relatively conservative so it is advisable to dress appropriately depending on the occasion but, ensure that you are not being overly exposed. Some establishments have strict dress codes.

  3. For the most part, Jamaican attire is on par with that of western culture. However, from time to time you might see some individuals dressed in traditional garments, or Rastafarians dressed in their cultural clothes as well. While this may fascinate you, it’s important to respect boundaries and ask permission before taking pictures, most will gladly oblige.

  4. The use of marijuana in Jamaica is quite common, however, there are rules and stipulations governing its use. The most important of these is the use of the drug in public spaces. In actuality, it is a chargeable offence.

  5. Jamaica is known for its spicy, flavourful dishes. Even though dining out is typically relaxed during a visit, avoid being overly boisterous, whether at public restaurants or private home dinners. Additionally, you should make an effort to consume all of the food that has been provided to you because leaving a lot of food on your plate could be interpreted as a sign of displeasure and insult. This is especially true if this is in a more intimate setting where the meal was personally prepared.

  6. The social scene in Jamaica is vibrant and diverse. Religion has a significant impact on society, and various facets of religion have an impact on Jamaican traditions and manners. Jamaicans are vivacious individuals, but when socializing, a conservative attitude is preferred. It is important to note that outrageous behaviour and public displays of affection between couples are not often well received, especially by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

  7. Since many Jamaicans speak patois, commonly known as Jamaican Creole, there may be a linguistic barrier. Simply ask the person you are speaking with to repeat themselves if you do not understand. Patois is a significant part of Jamaican society and even though English is the official language, it would be impolite to suggest that English is "better" than other languages. However, it's more likely that you'll simply hear a mixture of Jamaican patois and English, so you should be able to understand what's being said.

  8. Be punctual. Yes I know you might have heard that Jamaicans are not punctual and operates on their own time, which is actually very true but it only applies to social settings and with persons who feel a high level of comfortability with you or the group. For formal or professional interactions, we will be on time and we expect the same. In these instances, Jamaicans tend to be intolerable of impunctuality and view it as disrespectful.

  9. Jamaicans are frank and straightforward communicators who don't hesitate to express their opinions. They anticipate directness from others. They admire tact and compassion while detesting overt hostility. Even if they don't agree with what you stated, they will nonetheless politely express their opinions to you.

  10. In Jamaica, status is valued. When speaking to someone who is not an employee, it is quite usual to refer to them as "bossman" or "boss woman." Respecting and submitting to those in positions of authority is essential. When speaking to people on an equal footing, communication can be more casual.

Jamaicans may be the life of the party, warm and friendly but we are also very conservative, so basic respect and decency go a long way. For a person unfamiliar with socialising with Jamaicans, it is best to just follow their lead to avoid any unnecessary rifts.

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References & Sources For What Is Jamaican Etiquette

  1. (no date) Etiquette in Jamaica. Available at: https://www.traveletiquette.co.uk/EtiquetteJamaica.html (Accessed: November 25, 2022).
  2. Resources (no date) Commisceo Global Consulting Ltd. Available at: https://www.commisceo-global.com/resources/country-guides/jamaica-guide (Accessed: November 25, 2022).

What Is Jamaican Etiquette | Written: November 25, 2022


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