Christmas is an occasion for joy and festivity, and wherever it is celebrated, the basic values of love and sharing is promoted. It is an opportunity where in family, friends and acquaintances get together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In the island of Jamaica as well, there is a whole number of unique facets to celebrating Christmas. As Christianity is practiced widely in the island, Jamaican Christmas celebrations have a definite flavor that is Jamaica’s very own. Christmas is celebrated in Jamaica with as much religious fervor and proper respect as any other country, but there is a Jamaican way about celebrating Christmas that is a part of the unique culture.
The flair with which Jamaican Christmas celebrations are organized, gives a whole new aspect to the festivities. To cite an example, let us look at the way traditional Christmas Carols are sung here. These carols are very much popular in Jamaica as in almost all countries. The basic distinction of Jamaican Christmas carols is that the popular carols are sung in the reggae style. Reggae versions of popular carols are soon gaining increased popularity all over the world.
In Jamaica, food certainly plays a large hand in marking the Christmas festivities. The smell of fresh baking pervades the air at the start of the Christmas season, and bakers and families all over start putting fruit cakes for Christmas in the ovens. The fruits used for making these mixed fuit cakes are stored marinated in wine for months on end. Rum is also used for marinating, and this is made from sugar cane. Sorrel is the Jamaican Christmas Drink, and is made from sorrel sepal, white rum, orange peel, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and others. Sorrel is served with ice, and is drunk with gusto over the Christmas season.
Christmas day is celebrated with a whole range of delicacies that make up a feast lasting for the whole day. Succulent fare including salted fish, ackee, boiled and fried bananas, bread fruit, fresh fruit juice, tea among others are served. The norm is breakfast lasting till just before lunch time, and elaborate Christmas dinners being served pretty early in the afternoon, and going on till tea time. Peas, rice, ham, goat curries, stewed ox tail, chicken or duck roasted are the main items served.
The Johnkano festivities that are held during Christmas have pagan origins, and were bought by African slaves. Masked dancers and musicians revel in mainly the rural areas of Jamaica. People paint the houses and Christmas decorations like tinsels, lights and wreaths are also hung.