How Christmas Is Celebrated In Jamaica

United States By Christy Lowry Nov 17, 2023

Christmas brings families and friends across the globe together to celebrate. In Jamaica, Christmas festivities are rooted in the culture, traditions, and food distinct to the island. The variety of events, meals, and celebrations, that Jamaicans vibrantly partake in, make the holiday unforgettable. If you’re planning to visit the country this holiday season, learn how Christmas is celebrated in Jamaica.

How does Jamaica celebrate Christmas?

There’s plenty of things to do if you’re celebrating Christmas in Jamaica. Here are some places to visit, foods to eat, and festivities to join for the winter holiday:

Grand Market

Festivities in Jamaica kick off on December 24th with the Grand Market. The Grand Market is a festival and market that takes place in towns and cities across the island. During the day, people conduct their Christmas shopping. People shop for food, clothes, desserts, and more. Once the night falls, the festivities begin. From 6 p.m. until Christmas Day, children and adults fill the streets. Vendors in the street sell food like jerk chicken and boiled corn. You can buy clothes, Christmas decorations, and other products. After Grand Market, Jamaicans may either party or head to a midnight Mass service.

Junkanoo street parade

Junkanoo, also spelled as Jonkanoo, is a street masquerade event that’s celebrated by many islands in the Caribbean. It is one of the island’s oldest celebrations and was first observed by enslaved Africans in the 19th century. The masquerade includes characters like the King and Queen, Cow Head, Pitchy Patchy, Belly Woman, and Horsehead. In addition to these masqueraders, there are usually bands. Ensembles of drums, bamboo fifes, cow horns, and other instruments envelop Jamaican towns and villages in music.

If your family members live in Jamaica, Western Union can help you deposit money directly into their accounts. Western Union’s partnership with GraceKennedy provides you with direct access to Jamaican bank accounts. Transfers are fast and convenient, so your loved ones can receive the money they need in time for the holiday season.


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Christmas Day food traditions

Jamaican Christmas has plenty of food that will satisfy your taste buds. For breakfast, people consume ackee, saltfish, fried plantains, freshly squeezed juice, and tea. Dinner is served in the early afternoon and may include turkey, chicken, oxtail, curry goat, and rice and peas. For dessert, families may have Jamaican red wine and rum fruit cake. Both delectable sweets are traditional in Jamaican culture, and the rum fruit cake is a special treat for the holiday.

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas, Jamaicans celebrate Boxing Day. It’s a holiday celebrated amongst most British Commonwealth nations. The holiday got its name during the 1800s while Queen Victoria was on the throne. Servants received this day off and received a Christmas box from their masters. Today, most nations dedicate the day toward charity and servicing the poor. In Jamaica, families visit beaches or rivers and dedicate the day toward resting after Christmas celebrations. This celebration also marks the beginning of the Jamaican Pantomime.

Jamaican Pantomime

The Jamaican Pantomime is a source of entertainment that pays homage to Jamaica’s history and culture through song and dance. Initial versions of this celebration involved performing class children’s stories. The event has evolved into more dramatic performances involving a large cast, immersive narratives, and unforgettable performances. It’s an event Jamaicans look forward to every year, and it showcases the artistry present in different towns and villages.

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Christmas traditions in Jamaica are rooted in celebration and expression. Whether it’s food, dance, theater, or other festivities, Jamaican culture is present in the Christmas celebration. If you want to give monetary gifts for the holiday, you can use Western Union to deposit or send money to your family and loved ones. You can go online or download the Western Union app to send and receive money securely and conveniently. You can also visit an agent location if you prefer to handle transactions in person.