What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Jamaican Christmas?’ Is it the food – ham, sorrel and fruit cake? Or the music – Breadfruit roasting on an open fire? Or is it the old time traditions like Jonkunnu or Christmas morning church services? Maybe all of the above?
Although things and times have changed, these are still some of the hallmarks of what the Yuletide season in Jamaica. Those of us who call this little rock home still get to experience these things every year, but our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora only have the memories (if they emigrated as teens or adults) and the stories from their elders (if they emigrated as small children or were born in their parents’ adopted homelands.) We reached out to members of the Diaspora on social media and asked them to share some of their memories with us, and how they keep the Jamaican Christmas spirit alive in their adopted homelands. Here are some of the stories from Facebook:
Jacqueline J. Lawrence – I missed the cleaning, painting, changing the curtains, cooking, baking rum cake, family and friend’s coming over, the aroma of the food cooking, the Christmas breeze, the sorrel, ginger beer, pimento wine, OMG the fun!!
Denasha Wright – Cleaning the cake mix pan with my fingers 🙂 The sorrel, Egg nog, the *pretty clothes & shoes* and the redecorating of the house. 🙂
Vann Baker – Goat head soup, gungu peas and rice, delicious curry goat, n sorrel, my mother use to buy cases of D&G soft drinks…n not to mention wine soak fruit cake…
Stephanie Grey – I have a Gleaner Cookbook so I try to make dishes from that, some ingredients hard to find. I have Jamaican Christmas Gospel music. Jesus is the reason for the season no matter where you live! Merry Christmas Jamaica!
Janeice Farquharson-Blythe – I miss everything about Christmas in Jamaica. From going to grand market to mixing the cake batter for my aunt to bake, to see my grandmother grater the sweet potatoes to make pudding on the cold stove, to watchout out for the JUTA to pull up at the gate with my mother coming home for Christmas, to wake up Christmas morning with my gifts mext to me on my bed, to see family, neighbors and friends come over for a piece of my grandma’s pudding. The Christmas breeze and the Christmas songs…the sorrel and rum punch…new clothes and shoes…going to the beach on boxing day…I wish my kids could live their childhood in Jamaica like I did.
Lemard Lawrence – I miss grand market in Linstead. The music on the road the festivity the vendor the everything I love me some Jamaica Christmas sweeeeeet Jamaica.
Prisilla Mason Thompson – I miss sweeping up the yard and white washing the stones lining the driveway. Christmas breeze feel good when we going to grand market and miss going to Auntie Barb for Boxing Day for presents and food with every one in the neighborhood.
Marcia Deschler – Miss how we used to go to Kings Street on Christmas Eve, people jammed everywhere, excitement thick in the air, finish shopping, eating some Chinese food at a too packed restaurant. Buying candy from the street vendors all trying to get you to buy back in the 60s, a wonderful time to live in Jamaica.
David Young – Way back in the 60’s the Santa Clause float, fire crackers, John Canoe, sorrel, Christmas cake an good times at party with friends, also going to church early in the morning!!!
Gemini Nembhardt – I miss everything about Christmas in Jamaica, having fun with my friends, grand market, the food. Not the same here at all, no matter how I try to cook the foods and make the sorrel. Miss Jamaica baaaad.
Petagay Maxwell – My memories of Christmas as a child in Clarendon Jamaica, was…. my mom, would start ordering fruit cakes, getting a goat for the guys around the neighborhood to kill for a feast and can’t forget the sorrel, prepping our home for my aunts and uncles visiting from “farrin” dad would hire someone to cut our grass, white wash the stones, pepper lights around the neighborhood. This is making me tear up as I miss those days and my dad. Merry Christmas to my fellow Jamaicans when it comes!
Max China – The Christmas breeze, the cleaning and painting the house. Baking, wrapping gifts. Christmas party at school as a kid and at work when grown. Carol service at church. Family getting together. The round Christmas bread and chocolate tea. My list is getting too long and I’m getting homesick right now.
Anthony Campbell – Link up with fellow Jamaicans, bake our traditional Christmas cake sorrel whine, Christmas dinner preparation the full works and last but not least, ring relatives back in J.A for Christmas Day.
Lauralee McLeish – The last two Christmases I celebrated in Jamaica was a disappointment. There was not enough Christmas carols playing on the radio to give you that Christmas feelings I had growing up. What I miss most are friends stopping by so we can share a ‘bottle’ of soft drink, a glass of sorrel and a nice slice of fruit cake.
Hilary Reid – Going on the plaza with my brothers and friends Christmas Eve while mom & big sister is home cooking, baking rum cake, family and friend’s coming over, the aroma of the food cooking, the sorrel. Driving to the country on Boxing Day for curry goat feast at grandma home. Great memories.
Lilieth Ridguard-Miller – I miss The Salvation Army Outdoor caroling at Christmas! Also miss walking with friends downtown Sav until late night only on Christmas Eve nights.
Click here to read part 1 of the series.