Jamaican Culture

History

Jamaican culture symbolizes a rich combination of the cultures of the Greater Antilles island inhabitants. The original Taino Settlers have made major contribution in shaping up the Jamaican culture. However, the blacks and the slaves could become the leading cultural force because they experienced and refused to give in to the harsh condition of the forced labour.

After the obliteration of slavery, immigrants from China and India were transported to the island as bonded labors. They brought all the ideas far from east. Jews also came to the island as bonded servants to help in establishing the sugar industry and they too became a part of the business class. As soon as the Chinese people ended their contracts, they started to establish small businesses. East Indians also tried to move from agricultural labour to commercial and professional activities.

In Jamaica, the main ethnic separation is between whites and blacks. As the blacks had the majority, the emphasis was more on class relations, shades of skin color, and cultural prejudices instead of racial divisions. However, Jamaica has never witnessed clash between blacks and Indians or Chinese people.

Let’s know more about Jamaican food, clothing, traditions and events that are essential part of the Jamaican culture.

Food

A traditional Jamaican breakfast is called as "drinking tea," and it consists of the following ingredients:

  • Boiled bananas or roasted breadfruit
  • Sauteed callaloo with "saal fish" (salted cod)
  • "Bush" (herbal)
  • Or "chaklit" (chocolate) tea.

The mid-afternoon lunch is the main meal of the day and it is followed by light meal in the early evening. The evening meal includes bread, fried plantains, or fried dumplings and a hot drink. But now-a-days, due to changes in lifestyles, people prefer to take the main meal in the evening. The meal mostly consists of boiled yam or plantains, stewed or roasted beef, rice and peas, or rice with escoviched or fried fish.

During festive occasions, Jamaicans usually serve rice along with items of sweet potatoes, yam, green plantain, goat meat. Various Afro-religious segments prefer goat to sacrifice while performing rituals. In Kumina, usually, people mix the goat blood with rum and then drink it.

Clothing

Though, the cultural amalgamation in Jamaica affects the clothing of the region, still it has a unique identity. Women in Jamaica usually wear a skirt, a top and a headscarf that is made from calico, a kind of cotton material. The dresses of Jamaican people are colorful that shows the spirit Jamaicans. As the weather of the island is hot, Jamaicans does not prefer to wear heavy clothes. Cotton clothes and short sleeves are preferred by Jamaicans.

Beachwear has also significance in Jamaican clothing. Men, women and children are seen on beach area wearing colored shirts, shorts and added cover ups, sandals, sunglasses and a hat.
Combination of the opulently colorful traditional dresses and the trendy and informal western wear shows that the old tendency of cultural fusion still exists in the island.

Traditions

The Afro-Jamaican leaders are believed to have charismatic powers. Jamaicans believe that they have special "gifts" or to be "called." Jamiacan customs include "preaching" meetings and special healing rituals ceremonies like "thanksgiving," ancestral reverence, and memorial ceremonies. The places where the organized rituals are held are considered as holy. These places include churches, "balm yards," burial grounds, baptismal sites at rivers, crossroads etc.

Events

The following are some of the events celebrated by Jamaican people:


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