Jamaica is one of the most visited tourist spots, for its beautiful beaches and festive atmosphere. If you are planning a trip to Jamaica then you got to the right place. In this article, we are going to present the best time to visit and the most popular festivals in Jamaica. Jamaica is the land of celebrations and festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show. The major festivals of Jamaica are:
Accompong Maroon Festival (January 6)
The Accompong Maroon Festival is an important historical festival, and the most celebrated eventin Jamaica. It is celebrated on 6th January every year. Traditionally it is a three-day fest. It is celebrated to mark the birthday of the great leader Captain Cudjoe and to remember the victory of the Maroons over the British in the First Maroon War and the signing of the peace treaty between the Maroons and the British in 1739. The Maroons are the slaves and heir descendent who freed themselves from the British rule and established a separate community in Jamaica’s interior. Captain Cudjoe is credited for uniting the Maroons in their fight for freedom. The festival is named after the founder Maroon leader Accompong.
Maroons from all over the country gather in the St. Elizabeth area to celebrate the festival. St. Elizabeth area is originally settled by the Maroons. This celebration attracts visitors from all over the globe to walk through the culture of Jamaica. The festival starts with the blowing of the abeng (Cow horn), which is a typical war horn that has been used in Jamaica for more than 3 centuries. The streets are filled with people drumming, dancing, singing, drumming and drumming. The Gumbay, the Rattling drums and the Bass drums are the most important part of the ceremony which is opened to the public. There are many singers and dancers on the street that perform to the traditional Maroon songs which are some African words.
A black male pig is raised for this occasion which is cooked without salt. It is said to be given a privilege for taste. It is usually served from a large communal pot on a banana leaf. White rum is the most preferred drink and is a part of the ceremony which is served to the singers, dancers, drummers and also to satisfy the ancestral spirits. The Peace Cave is believed to be the dwelling place of spirits. Only the Maroons are allowed inside the cave while the patrons roam at the mouth of the cave. This led to an increase in the emotions and tensions of music up in the crowd. The night festival includes a carnival-like atmosphere great jubilation, great energy, great food, and large crowds. This spirit of the town infuses the soul of the visitors to take part in the singing, dancing and storytelling event of the festival.
Christmas (December 25)
As Christianity is the major religion of Jamaica, all the Christian festivals are celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm. Christmas is one of the major festivals in Jamaica. It is celebrated every year on 25th December all over the world. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ who is believed to be the son of God. “Christmas” is the shortened formof “Christ’s mass”. A mass service is held where Christians believe that Jesus died for the people and then resurrected back to life to give fate to people. The first Christmas was celebrated on 25th December 336 during the rule of Roman Constantine. According to Christian tradition, it is said that Mary was told that she would have a baby on 25 March which is called the Annunciation. Some people in the early days celebrated Christmas on 25th March. Just 9 months after 25th March on 25th December Christmas is celebrated.
The number of churches is more per square mile as compared to any other country of the world. The festive season in Jamaica starts from early December to New Years Day. This is the best time for visitors to explore Jamaica. Though there is a lack of snow and chimneys the temperature drops slightly in early December. However,Santa Claus visits Jamaica and gives the gift as per the tradition. Streets and Palm trees are decorated with bright coloured Christmas light known as pepper lights. Neighbourhood houses compete with each other for best light decoration. Plastic Christmas trees are common but the Blue Mountain pines are more elegant. The day starts with Christmas mass where people offer prayer to Jesus which is a joyous celebration with carol singing and hand clapping. Steel drums and reggae versions of the Christmas songs giver the Caribbean feel to the festival.
Gran market is the most anticipated event of the Christmas Eve. It is held in all the cities and towns of Jamaica. The sole purpose of the Gran market is to provide Shoppers with last-minute purchases and unique items. The traditional masquerade party of ‘John Canoe’ or Jonkanoo is the soul of the Gran market. People dress up and wear a mask while dancing on the street in response to music. During the night the people rush toward the town square where street dancers, singers, stage shows and shopping is opened beyond midnight. Christmas dinner is the most important event that brings friends and family together. Roast turkey is now replaced by roast chicken, curried goat and ham. Sorrel is the most popular drink after the meal. Rum laden fruit cake is the traditional dessert which completes the dinner After the dinner people exchange gifts. One of the Jamaican tradition is singing carols and visitors might hear them till the end of December.
Easter (April 21)
Though Eastern is not asbig as Christmas it is also an important festival which is celebrated with great joy. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Full Moon, just after the spring equinox. The week before Easter is referred to as “Holy Week” by most Christians. Easter season lasts for about seven weeks starting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. According to the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ sacrificed or died for the wrongdoings of the people and then came back to life three days after his death.
As Christianity is the major religion of Jamaica, Easter is treated as an important occasion. It is celebrated with a Jamaican tradition. It is the best time for visitors to get a taste of Jamaican culture. The rituals of Easter in Jamaica include cracking an egg and separating the yellow yolk from the white/albumen. Then the egg white is placed on a glass containing water before the sunrise on the Good Friday morning. After the sunrise when the temperature increases the egg white starts forming a pattern inside the glass. The pattern formation can be compared with the pattern of clouds. It is believed that the pattern of the glass determines the way the person would die.
It is believed that the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified was made from a nut tree. The reason behind this belief is that if the nut tree is cut at twelve noon on Good Friday the liquid which comes out of the limb and trunk is reddish in colour. This reddish colour stain symbolises the blood of Jesus while he was nailed.
Like other countries, Jamaicans also give up certain foods during the Lent season. Basically, they give up meat and alcohol. This results in the increase in demand of the seafood in the country. The most famous Easter tradition of Jamaica is the baking of hot buns with cheddar cheese. The tradition of the baking bun was adopted from the British hot cross buns. Nowadays Jamaican bake hot cross buns in the shape of a cross that symbolises Jesus Christ and give them as gifts to friends and family.
The most important part of the Easter celebration in Jamaica is the prayer services on the church. These services are dedicated to Jesus Christ resurrection from the dead. People usually dress up with bright colour cloths.
To make sure nothing stands in your way of traveling to Jamaica, make sure to visit the German website from Backpackertrail. There you can find general information on what to expect on your journey.
List of major festivals and events of Jamaica
Accompong Maroon Festival (January 6), Jamaica Sprint Triathlon (Late January), Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival (Late January).
Bob Marley Week (Early February), Bob Marley Birthday Bash (February 6), Reggae Summerfest.
Jamaica Kiteboard World Cup (March 25 to April 3), March Spring Break.
Montego Bay Yacht Club’s Easter Regatta (Easter weekend), Carnival in Jamaica (first week of April), Treasure Beach Off-Road Triathlon (April 27), Easter (April 21).
Calabash International Literary Festival.
Kingston on the Edge Urban Art Festival (KOTE) (June 18 to 26), Ocho Rios Jazz Festival (Second week of June).
Little Ochi Seafood Carnival (July 11), Reggae Sumfest (Late July)
The National Independence Float Parade and Grand Gala (August 6), Red Stripe Dream Weekend (August 5 to 8).
Jamaica Coffee Festival (First week of October)
One World Ska & Rocksteady Music Festival