Easter On the Rock, JamRock “Jamaica”

 

Jamaica Carnival

                                                                             Jamaica Carnival, People Dancing in the Street

Easter is the most important religious holiday for Christians. Members of the Christian community use the 40 days leading up to Easter which is also known as Lent to reflect on the death of Jesus. Easter Sunday is the day when Christians around the World celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Since Jamaica is still a predominantly Christian nation, Easter plays an important role in the local culture. Many Jamaicans take Lent and Easter extremely seriously, but those who are less religious also enjoy the more secular celebrations.

It’s quite customary for the Christian communities as well as communities that may not necessarily see themselves as Christians but a believer of God to adopt the rituals of Christians. While some rituals may have been more prevalent with the older generations, none the less, they are still Jamaican traditions.

Rituals and Traditions

Some of these rituals may include cracking an egg and separating the yolk from the white. After the separation of the egg, place the white portion of the egg into a glass of water before the rising of the sun on the morning of Good Friday.

 

Once the sunrise and the temperature degrees rise, the egg white in the glass starts to form a pattern. The formation of a pattern can be easily compared to the patterns in the sky as you watch the clouds. In past years, the elder generation and even some of today’s generation believe that the patter in the glass would determine the way you would die. For example, if the white of the egg forms a pattern of a plane then that’s how you would die. If the pattern resembles what you think is a ship, a train, a car or something else then that would be the cause of your death.

 

Other Jamaican Easter Tradition involved the Nut Tree. Some persons think that the cross that Jesus was nailed to was made from a tree like a nut tree. Therefore, the folklore behind the story is that, if the nut true is cut at twelve-noon on Good Friday the stain from the limb and trunk will have a reddish color. The reddish color from the limb would symbolize the blood of Jesus while he was nailed to the cross.  What is clear in Jamaica around the Easter Celebration is that everyone looks forward to the season’s festivities. Jamaican traditions during Easter, whether we are talking about Faith, Feast and Festivities this article covers it all. To find out more about the special Jamaican Easter traditions, from a first person’s point of view, from someone who lived, loved and still loving the life allow us to share that world within our reading.

What Jamaicans Abstain From During Lent

Like most other nations that celebrate Easter, many Jamaicans abstain from certain foods or drinks during the Lent season. Typical things Jamaicans give up during these months include alcohol and meat. Since so many people give up meat during Lent, the demand for high-quality seafood goes up dramatically across the island nation.

Well over half of the population of Jamaica identifies as Christian. In case you were wondering, the three main denominations on the island are Protestant at 64 percent, Seventh Day Adventist at 12 percent, and Pentecostal at 11 percent. And it would be un-Jamaican not to say, the Rastafari have a large religian followings.

Bun And Cheese

 

jamaican bun and cheese, one of the most popular jamaican easter traditions

One of the most famous Easter traditions in Jamaica is baking hot buns with cheddar cheese. The tradition of using buns in religious ceremonies goes all the way back to Ancient Babylon. Jamaicans, however, picked up the tradition of the hot cross bun from the British. Britons would often bake buns in the shape of a cross with cheese and honey as a reminder of Christ’s crucifixion. Today, it’s typical for Jamaicans to bake hot cross cheese buns with various fruits and give them out as gifts to friends and family.

 

The main difference between the Jamaican hot bun and the English hot bun is that some Jamaicans use molasses as the sweetener rather than honey. Although most people in the UK don’t bake fresh buns with cheese nowadays, the tradition is still extremely strong in Jamaica. While there are no statistic on eating bun and cheese, as Jamaicans we will go way out and the limb and say, “Almost every Jamaican family on Good Friday Morning and definitely at some point during the day, will enjoy eating bun and cheese.” And in certain cases, it could be, “Hot Bun with Cheese.”

 The tradition of eating bun and cheese on Good Friday morning is a practice that takes place in the Jamaican Diaspora. This habit is followed no matter where around  the world Jamaicans live. The great news is that anyone who wants to taste an authentic Jamaican bun and cheese for themselves is in luck. There are dozens of easy to follow recipes online right now that you can print and try out from the comfort of your home.

Church Celebrations On Good Friday And Easter

The most important Jamaican Easter traditions for faithful Christians are the church services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Even though, the Easter celebration starts on Palm Sunday which marks the end of Lent. The actual church services starting with Holy Thursday and Good Friday after the observant of Lint. These services are all to commemorate Jesus Christ resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.

To mark Christ’s suffering on the cross; most congregants wear all black at Good Friday mass. On Easter, however, everyone wears bright colors and/or white to celebrate the Resurrection. Anyone visiting Jamaica during this time of year should have no problems finding Christian choirs singing jubilant songs if you would like a place to worship. All schoolchildren are off during this time of the year for about two weeks. Authorities in Jamaica formally recognize both Good Friday, Easter Sunda and Easter Monday as public holidays.

 

Carnival, Jamaica

A Natural Beauty comes with the Costume & a Smile

Events and Festivities

 

Ester is the time of year when many Jamaicans are celebrating the resurrection of Christ. It’s also a period when many family fun events are planned. The people on the island know how to have a good time and look forward to doing so. There will be much high energy and well-attended fun filled local activities will be taking place. For the sporting enthuses like me as you drive around the island feel free to pull over and watch a local cricket match, football game, and other sporting events taking place. If you get to Jamaica early enough, you can catch some track meets. There is a plan Beach J’Ouvert Party in Priory St. Ann as well as other unplanned beach parties.

 

There are lots of parties and sought after private events scheduled for that time period. In fact, the celebration in Jamaica starts at the end of March at the National Stadium in Kingston. These celebrations include planned events every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday right up to April 28. There you can attend weekly mas-camps to check out behind the scene to see costumes and bands.  Then on April 28 are a Bacchanal / Carnival Road Parade celebrating the holiday.

 

Easter Vacation

 

As a result, many families around the world planned their vacation around this holiday to come home to visit the family and join the celebrations.

Of the fourteen Parishes in Jamaica, many of them plan their own celebration. But there are also plan celebrations that cross Parishes. The main carnival takes place in Kingston and Ocho Rios resort areas. Kingston showcases four major bands while Ocho Rios usually has one. Special schedule shows will be part of the agenda to check out Calypso / Soca Artist as well as Dancehall Reggae Artist. Each band will accommodate their own showcase of partying in the street hosting their shows.

Initially, Easter may have been just a spiritual festivity, but that ideology has changed around the world. Now the Easter commemoration is widely accepted as a more merriment occasion. Now there are gathering, festival, and observance that can last for weeks. Festivities are plan a year in advance and within six months of the holiday, many of the accommodations are sold out.

 

Now the happy people on the happy island of Jamaica salute the occasion for what it was meant to yet appreciate it for what it is. Here people do not need any motivation to create a party atmosphere. So the Easter Holiday weeks and weekend here in Jamaica is described as one for the ages. Jamaica is hot and sunny with a beautiful breeze this time of year. The average temperature stays in the eighties, so as you plan your Easter getaway, just know, it’s more than fun in the sun.

Yellow-Yam at the Yam Festival

Yellow-Yam at the Yam Festival

Trelawny Yam Festival

Yam is a very important locally grown vegetable in Jamaica. So important is the starchy yam that Jamaica hosts the internationally renowned Trelawny Yam Festival every year on Easter. Founded in 1997, the Trelawny Yam Festival attracts thousands of locals and tourists who want to discover unique ways to eat their yams. In addition to sampling yam soups and dishes, there are also various competitions and demonstrations during this exciting festival.

The Trelawny Yam Festival takes place in Albert Town Trelawny on the North Coast of Jamaica. Visitors are treated with over thirty different ways of preparing yams. Some of the ways to prepare yam including cooking as an appetizer, making it into a sauce and dip. Other ways to prepare yam includes baking it as bread, desserts and as a drink. Then there are the more traditional ways of preparing yams such as boiling and roasting.

While this Yam Festival has been a part of Easter in Jamaica and Easter Monday Celebration for over twenty years, the attractions and visitors continue to soar. Locals and tourist alike go to the yam festival for many different reasons. Some people attend to be overwhelmed by the size and shape of the yams. Others attend the festival for the cultural presentation and culinary competition. An additional attraction at the festival includes the crowing of the yam Queen Pageant which showcases the talented ladies in farming. There are a number of activities leading up to the festival such as 50k cycle race

The Trelawny Yam Festival takes place in the city of Falmouth and Kingston, is where you you will find the final celebration of carnival. Be sure to check online before you visit. Without a doubt, the Trelawny Yam Festival is a famous Jamaican Easter traditions.

See Your Future In An Egg

The practice of “egg setting” is one of the most interesting of Jamaican Easter traditions. Although not as popular nowadays, many people in the countryside who practice witchcraft engage in this folk practice on Good Friday. Honestly, anyone can easily practice egg setting.

 

All you have to do is place an egg into a glass of clean water a few hours before the sun rises on Good Friday. As dawn breaks, take a look at the shape of the egg white in your glass. The shape of the egg in the water is supposed to reveal something about your near future. For instance, if the egg looks like a heart, it might mean you’ll find your true love in the coming year…so be on the lookout!

Kite Flying

Kite Flying

Kite Flying And Flower Shows

Even people who aren’t religious have a joyful time during the Easter season. A few of the more family-friendly Jamaican Easter traditions include kite flying on Jamaica’s beaches and visiting local flower shows. Easter tends to fall on a day either in March or April, so there’s plenty of wind going around Jamaica’s beaches for great kite flying opportunities.

However, flying kite has always been a major pastime in the Caribbean. During the Easter weekend, the pastime is amped up many folds. Some Island view kite flying as a symbol of Jesus resurrecting from the grave. In Jamaica especially on Easter Weekend, the kite is flown all around the island. These kites range from small to huge sizes. They are designed with vivid bright colors and looking ever so vibrant. Kite flying in Jamaica has been going on for generations.

Jamaica International Kite Festival

However, over the past sixteen years, flying kite in Jamaica over the Easter weekend has become more than just a pastime. Easter 2019 will be the sixteen staging of the Jamaica International Kite Festival. The Kite Festival is held on Easter Monday in the Richmond, St. Ann. This location is on the North Coast, minutes outside of Ocho Rios. Over the years, the event has grown to the point where they had to change the venue to a bigger forum. Furthermore, Kite flying competition has attracted International attention. As a result, an organization such as Canadian Kiting, The American Kiting, and the West Indian Kite Association have all attended and participated in the event. The Kite Festival has also attracted experience kite flyers who come prepared to show off their kite flying stunts and tricks.

Kite Flying

Kite Flying
“One Love” Kite

The event offers many other activities outside of kite flying. There is musical entertainment for both armatures and season professionals performing for the crowd. There are arts and crafts and long with a variety of dishes which includes Jerk Chicken, and all sorts of Jamaican food. This event is absolutely a classical family fun day filled with activities. There will be lots of fun for children and contest for adults. Entertainment includes bun eating and dance competitions. The Kites contest will judge based on sizes from big to small, most colorful, most cultural, and more category in order to take home a prize.

 

The usually start around 10:00 am and feature other activities such as donkey and horseback riding, face painting, slides bouncy bounce, magicians, cultural performances and a host of other activities.

Indeed, kite flying on Easter is extremely popular all over the Caribbean during this time of year. After the kids have had enough fun flying kites above Jamaica’s white sand beaches, families usually take a stroll through flower markets and pick up a few of Jamaica’s beautiful flowers to take home and decorate their homes.

Byron Lee And The Easter Carnival

Woman costumed for Bacchanal

Of all these Jamaican Easter traditions, the Easter carnival is actually one of the more recent events. The Jamaican Easter carnival began in the 1990s thanks in large part to the inspiration of the popular musician Byron Lee. Instead of having a carnival leading up to Fat Tuesday before Lent, the Jamaican carnival actually starts on Easter morning and runs through one whole week.

People come to expect one big island-wide celebration during the carnival season. This event happens in multiple parishes. Persons who are participating in the carnival dress up in their beautiful and colorful costumes and dance in the street. These people are marching and dance in the streets to the sweet pulsating sounds of Calypso and Reggae Music. The designated street is organized as Carnival or Parade routes and thousands of people line the street to join the celebration. These festivities are usually planned for about one year.

 

How Carnival Started

Carnival on a whole is huge in the Caribbean. It started in Trinidad in 1785 as a way to celebrate the French Settlers. People would dress up in their fancy dresses. They would put on a mask and wigs and dance in the street. The African slaves were not part of the carnival celebration but they started their own. For the Africans, celebrating carnival was a way to express themselves and put them in a different mindset. They were doing what they wanted to do without being told.

Costumes at Carnival

Jamaican Queens in Costumes at Carnival

After slavery was over, carnival became a way of life for the freed Africans. Today, the celebration continues and hopefully will go on until the end of eternity. People jumping around and having the time of their life during Carnival season, it is known versus the unknown. Remembering, what was told of how carnival started and how things today bring you back to the adage of “Never forget where you came from”?

As with any other festival, you can expect plenty of dancing, drinking, and merry-making. Although these all-too-worldly festivities irk conservative Christians, most Jamaicans nowadays have no problem with the Easter carnival.

Jamaica Consul General Herman LaMont

Summing Up

While it might not be as flashy as Christmas, Easter festivities plays a significant role in Jamaican culture. Everyone in Jamaica knows Lent is around the corner once they see more seafood on their store shelves and smell the many tantalizing buns and cheese throughout the nation. While some folk traditions may be giving way to secular parties, the Jamaican Easter traditions are sure to remain an important part of the local culture for years to come.

 

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