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Jamaican Christmas: ‘Jonkunnu a come!’

‘Christmas breeze’, Jonkunnu and Christmas fruit cake are Christmas traditions that are uniquely Jamaican and diGJamaica.com is highlighting one a day in the Jamaican Christmas blog series. Each day we will highlight a historical fact, food or tradition that are related to the special season.  We would also like to hear from you, so send your comments or tell us your favourite Christmas memory in the comments section.


Jonkunno, or John Canoe, is one of the most popular retentions from Jamaica’s colonial past that blends the masquerading styles of both Africa and Europe. Men dressed in colourful elaborate costumes would parade through the streets during Christmas and Independence to the delight of curious onlookers. Adults and children alike would run away screaming when characters like ‘the Devil’ would jab at them with his fork.’  The dance group would include musicians who would play rustic instruments like drums, rattler and fife as they walked among the costumed characters.

Jonkunno is infamous for the elaborate costumes based on characters inspire a strange combination of reactions ranging from genuine howls of terror to squeals of delights from the young and the young at heart. Here is a list of the characters:

  • King
  • Queen
  • Devil
  • Pitchy-Patchy
  • Belly Woman
  • Cow Head
  • Policeman
  • Horse Head
  • Wild Indian
  • Bride
  • House Head

Each character has a special role and sometimes a special dance to perform. For example, Bellywoman – often a man dressed up as a pregnant lady – always created laughter when by exaggerating the belly in time with the music. Characters often interacted with one another and the music of the drums and fife causing many an onlooker to dance along with the band.

Visit this link on diGJamaica.com for more on Celebrating Christmas Jamaican Style

5 Facts: Usain Bolt, Martin Luther King Jr. And More

Starting today, every Friday, diGJamaica.com will share 5 facts about Jamaica.


  1. Before the British, there were no real parishes, but stretches of land were either named after large Spanish ranches (Yallahs, Morant) or retained their Arawak names (Guanboa, Liguanea).
  2. In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the valedictory address at The University of the West Indies, Mona, in Kingston, Jamaica.
  3. In April 2004, Usain Bolt, at the age of 17, became the first junior to run under 20 seconds when he established the World Junior Record over the half-lap, 19.93 at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda.
  4. The per yard equivalent cost of JDIP roads in Kingston ranged from J$30,000 to J$320,000.  Explore that JDIP chart and others in our diG Jamaica data section.
  5. Mr. William (Bill) Clarke is the Chairman of the National Export Import Bank of Jamaica.  Explore the National Export Import Bank Of Jamaica directory entry for contact information, social media links, services and more.

How much do YOU know about Jamaica? Play our diG Jamaica Trivia Game.

6 Things You Need To Know Today- December 14, 2012

1. Stop Them At The Ports – TAJ Plans Desperate Measures To Collect Outstanding Tax Revenue. With tax revenues running $7.6 billion behind projection as at October, the Government is moving to place obstacles in the way of delinquent taxpayers who have to travel overseas to sustain their local enterprises. The tax authorities are getting ready to impose stop orders, barring persons from leaving the country. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

2. Smokers To Pay More. The Gleaner can confirm an earlier report it carried that, as of next week, cigarette smokers will have to pay more to puff away. At the same time, the Government is set to rake in an additional billion dollars above projection from the taxes of cigarettes manufactured by Carreras. Effective Monday, a carton of Craven A and Matterhorn brands will be increased from $2,500 to $2,650. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

3. Government To Shell Out $400m More To Sandy Victims. The Government has already forked out $233 million to thousands of persons across three eastern parishes whose houses were damaged during the passage of Hurricane Sandy in October. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

4. We’ll Ensure Order In FX Market, Says Phillips. The country’s finance minister, Dr Peter Phillips, yesterday warned that the Government would not sit idly by and allow speculative pressure to build up on the Jamaican dollar. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

5. Brace For Higher Used-Car Prices, Says JUCDA. The Jamaica Used Car Dealers’ Association (JUCDA) is urging customers to brace for higher prices come next year as several variables it says are out of the control of traders will contribute to increased costs. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

6. Big First For Alia – Swimmer Bags Historic Silver At Short Course Champs. Alia Atkinson created history at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday, when she became the first Jamaican swimmer to win a medal at a global tournament. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

64 Easy, Delicious Jamaican Christmas Recipes

new-gleaner-christmas-cookbook-2012A true Jamaican Christmas means food – lots of it and delicious too!

In a tradition that has endured though the ages, generations gather as family and friends, and the food is as hot a topic of discussion as the day’s current events or the latest family news.

These recipes in The Gleaner Christmas Cookbook 2012  are sure to please with easy to prepare, tasty Jamaican favourites and more.  When selecting ingredients, we encourage you to Eat Jamaican – local produce and local brands.

And remember, Jamaican coffee and tea are great with any meal.

For each recipe below, the link takes you straight to the page:






What’s your favourite Jamaican Christmas dish? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Introducing Travel Tuesday On diG Jamaica


While we may be best known for our beautiful sandy beaches, the fact is that Jamaica has something for everyone – whether you are a visitor or you are lucky enough to live here.

With a sturdy vehicle and a tank full of gas one can go from the corporate skyline of New Kingston to the rolling hills of rural Jamaica in about an hour. Road trip lovers will never tire of Jamaica’s lush landscape as each parish has something special to offer. The turquoise water of the Blue Lagoon in Portland, a farm full of towering coconut trees in St Mary, the white sands of Negril’s world famous coastline and the cascading waters of St Thomas.

If food is your passion, try the peppered shrimp in Middle Quarters St Elizabeth, Boston’s Jerk festival or make a stop in Faith’s Pen for some ackee and corned pork. The possibilities are endless! Kite festivals, internationally renowned concerts, resorts or nail-biting donkey races in Top Hill, St. Catherine.

diGJamaica.com, which celebrates all things Jamaican, will be inviting you to explore a piece of the rock every week on a Tuesday with our #TravelTuesday posts as we join the global conversation that happens every Tuesday on Twitter about all things related to travel.

So if you’re wondering why we are telling you about this today, here’s why:  YOU can help us choose the topic of the first post!  What’s your favorite enclave or chill spot, comment below, share it with us at dig@digjamaica.com or submit it at suggest diGs.

Until next time, as we say in Jamaica, “Walk Good” (which means take care, safe travels)

6 Things You Need To Know Today – December 13, 2012

  1. Depreciating Dollar Bumps Up Nation’s Debt by $25 Billion.  One percent depreciation increases the debt stock by approximately 0.5% according to the Medium Term Debt Strategy 2012.   The article examines the increased value of the debt based on the foreign denominated debt and this projected rate of increase due to devaluation.  [Read more at Jamaica-Gleaner.com].  For more about the debt, read our diGJamaica.com blog posts:  diGging The Debt – External Debt and diGging The Domestic Debt
  2. The IMF Has Thrown Out Nothing. Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Peter Phillips dispelled reports that the IMF had thrown out the Government’s tax reform proposals. He also opined on whether or not an agreement could be reached by the end of the year.  [Read more here at Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. ‘You Have Failed Us’. Citing the failure of the Government, media, parenting, the Church, culture – and society in general – for the growing rate of teenage sex, the students of Ardenne High School are of the view that whether the age of consent in Jamaica is raised is irrelevant. [Read more here at Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. ‘Reckless’ UDC Feels Heat At PAAC Meeting.  Members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) expressed concern about the finances and management practices of the UDC following the revealtion that the UDC lost nearly $760 million in the first seven months of this year.  [Read more at Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. ‘Mobay Is Going To See Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’.  State Minister for Industry and Commerce and Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams said in a speech yesterday that more jobs would be coming from the ICT sector in Montego Bay [Read more here at Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  6. Christmas Cheer For Jamaicans In Rockaway, NY.  Jamaican community activity Michael Duncan, with the help of community groups, churches, area companies, media houses, artists, local restaurants and good Samaritans, has created an event called ‘Christmas in The Rockaways’, designed to bring holiday cheer to the needy. [Read more here at Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

6 Things You Need To Know Today – December 12, 2012

  1. Cayman Shocker – Described As A ‘Friend Of Jamaica’, Nation Reacts To Premier’s Arrest. Embattled Cayman Islands Premier William McKeeva Bush has been described as a friend of Jamaica who took risks to ensure locals are integrated into the life of his country. Bush was scheduled to be conferred with an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree by the UCC at a commencement ceremony in Kingston tomorrow. However, on the eve of his visit to Jamaica, he was detained at his home by the Financial Crime Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIP). [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Report Paints Dismal Picture Of Schools – Management Weaknesses, Poor Performance Plague Several Institutions. A study conducted by the National Education Inspectorate (NEI) has unveiled worrying data that students in approximately one-third or 45 of 135 primary and secondary schools are receiving educational services rated as unsatisfactory. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. Way Clear For Sex Offenders’ Registry. Opposition Members Olivia Grange and Shahine Robinson broke ranks and voted with the Government side to pass the regulations for the sexual offenders’ registry yesterday. The regulations were not passed without intense debate, leading to a dramatic divide at the committee stage. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Boyz Must Do Or Die. Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, defending Caribbean Cup Champions, face the prospect of being embarrassingly dumped out of the tournament before the knockout phase, should they fail to defeat neighbours Cuba at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium tonight. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. No Long-Term Benefits From Forex Slide, Says JHTA. Senior lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of West Indies, Mona, Dr Damien King, has suggested that sectors currently earning income in foreign exchange are likely to post net gains as the Jamaican dollar continues to lose value. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com] [See chart at diGJamaica.com]
  6. Holiday Safety Tips For Children. Christmas is an exciting time of the year for kids. And for most adults, too! The kids are looking forward to toys, toys and more toys! While we are making their wishes come true, let us ensure that they have a safe holiday season. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

diGging The Domestic Debt

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog about the external debt, we want to finish our look at the makeup of Jamaica’s total debt picture. Today we will look at the Domestic Debt and see how it has changed between January 2011 and September 2012. Please note that you can click on the charts to enlarge.

The two critical components of Domestic Debt are:

The JDX Benchmark Debt and Foreign Denominated Loans & Debt.

JDX Benchmark Debt represents 89% of all Domestic Debt and Increased by J$18Bln or 2.1% in 2012

  • This includes Variable Rate Debt, Fixed Rate Debt, Inflation-Linked Debt and US$ Notes
  • The GoJ has moved away from Fixed Rate Debt in 2012, as the total debt in these instruments has decreased by 6.5% or J$23.5Bln.
  • The Ministry of Finance and Planning, however, has seen the need to issue more Variable Rate Notes, with total debt in these instruments rising by 10% or J$38 Bln, more than offsetting the decrease in Fixed Rate Debt.
  • Inflation-Linked Notes and USD Notes have both increased marginally (~3%) but represent small parts of the total JDX Benchmark Debt as seen in the graph . The total increase in both instruments represents J$3.7Bln

Foreign Denominated Loans & Debts represent 10% of all Domestic Debt and Increased by J$70Bln or 253% during 2012

  • This category saw the largest increase in both actual value and percentage value.  It is represented by US$ Denominated Loans and Euro Denominated Debt.  Each month the loans and debts are recalculated in their respective currencies.  The devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar in 2012 has made this category of debt increase at a faster rate than other debt due to this monthly recalculation.

And here is a look at the growth of the debt in totality:

Take a look at the economic dashboard on the main diGJamaica.com website to look at month over month stats.  The diGJamaica.com data section also has debt information for 2011 and will constantly be updated for your viewing pleasure.

6 Things You Need To Know Today – December 11, 2012

  1. Expensive And Unsafe. Despite calling for proposals to develop a rural school-bus system strategy and implementation plan, transport, works and housing minister, Dr Omar Davies, said there is no guarantee such a system will come on stream. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  2. Gold Hunt On! A new player is getting ready to hit the ground running in a quest to unearth, in Jamaica, an increasingly expensive metal on the international market. Despite less than favourable results, to date, by companies which carried out exploratory work locally to find the precious metal, Rio Minerals Jamaica Limited yesterday signalled that it is in the process of getting a special exclusive prospecting licence to dig for gold. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  3. American Airlines Pays Millions To Kingston Crash Victims. American Airlines (AA) has reportedly paid out millions of dollars in damages to several persons who were injured when one of its aircraft crashed in Kingston almost three years ago. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  4. Samuels Slaughter. Marlon Samuels’ brilliance allowed West Indies to sign off their Bangladesh tour on a high note with an 18-run win in yesterday’s one-off Twenty20 International, but not before suffering a scare from the hosts still gushing from their 50-over series triumph. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  5. Jamaica Earns US$1.7b From Tourism Industry. Jamaica has earned more than US$1 billion from the tourism industry so far this year, Tourism and Entertainment Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill said. Speaking at the launch of Tourism Awareness Week 2012, McNeill said the earnings of US$1.7 billion represent a 3.2 per cent increase over the US$1.6 billion generated for the same period in 2011. [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]
  6. Oh Christmas Tree! One more tumble and the tree-lifter would be sure to get it. The newly purchased Christmas tree was being hoisted to the top of a waiting SUV and it had already fallen twice. The customer, a chubby, fair-skinned woman with a sun-burned forehead, was clearly annoyed. “Yuh try mek sure yuh get it this time, yuh see!” she said, folding her arms. “Mi nuh want any bruck-up tree. Is not dat mi pay yuh fah.” [Read more on Jamaica-Gleaner.com]

‘5 THINGS’ PLUS ONE! We have added another bit of interesting Jamaican news to brighten up your day! Happy diGging!

To see what happened today years ago, visit This Day In Our Past – December 11, 2012 – “You Have No Business On The Road”

Protecting Your Debit Card Or Credit Card PIN

As Christmas draws nigh, shoppers have stepped up their game, hitting the malls in earnest. But in this digital age, hardcore shoppers are not just burning paper but also plastic as the convenience of the credit and debit cards trump good ol’ reliable paper currency. But before you make one more swipe or even unlock that ABM door diGJamaica.com has a list of tips that shoppers should bear in mind this season.

Here are a few tips on how to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and all about Cybercrime:

  1. Your first line of defence in the virtual world begins with your password or your personal identification number (PIN).
  2. Keep your passwords and PINs a secret. Keep them to yourself, and remember them without writing them down.
  3. Create strong passwords that you can remember. Passwords should have at least eight characters; include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols; and be easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess.
  4. Carefully check your financial statements every month for suspicious activity. If you spot something, immediately alert your bank or the creditor.
  5. Do not leave your ATM transaction receipts behind at any vendor or machine. Take them with you.
  6. Shred credit card or bank statements, solicitations and other records that contain personal financial information when you no longer need them.
  7. Be careful when making purchases over the phone. Only give out information like your name, address and especially your credit card number if you are sure and can verify with whom you are communicating.
  8. When online, only give the information required-often marked with an asterisk (*) and no more.
  9. If your card is lost, stolen or is retained by an ABM, notify your financial institution immediately. Most institutions offer toll free telephone numbers and/or 24-hour service for lost or stolen cards.
  10. Keep abreast of all the new tricks that scammers are using so you can avoid those pitfalls. Here is one from The Gleaner Held up with an ABM Card.
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