‘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.
You will see them in the main shopping districts ringing a small bell as they wait patiently beside a weathered fire-engine red kettle, imploring passers-by to part with the change left over from gift shopping. They are the officers of the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army, a global organization, is sometimes the only glimmer of hope for thousands of lonely, indigent and homeless persons and every Christmas, only in Christmas, do they make such a public appeal. In fact the kettle launch in November signifies the official start of Christmas, not the first Christmas carol on the radio or furniture commercial set to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’ as one would think.
The Salvation Army came to Jamaica in 1887 and the first kettle appeal was set up four years later. Jamaicans have been giving to and benefiting from this effort for a whopping 121 years with no end in sight to charity’s determination to help the less fortunate.
In a country like Jamaica that is reeling from the effects of economic instability and the shocks of the global recession, giving has become even more important as more persons sink into poverty. And despite high unemployment rates and see-saw economic growth, Major Stanley Griffin, divisional commander told The Gleaner that in the midst of a financial crisis people respond with even more donations and support.
This year’s collection will go towards purchasing supplies to hospitals, nursing homes, children’s homes and people whose lives have been uprooted by Hurricane Sandy in October.
In the middle of a modern Christmas culture filled with wanton spending and flashy parties, there is a symbol of generosity and restoration, right here in Jamaica.