Jamaican culture

Jamaican culture … unique and vibrant

Whether you have visited Jamaica or not, you will probably know Jamaican culture unique and vibrant and is famous across the world.  From Jamaican music, dance and food to its arts and crafts all derived from its rich heritage.  This cultural diversity probably stems from the many different nationalities that have landed on the island’s shores.  Over the past several centuries, many nationalities have arrived and settled in Jamaica, each bringing something to add to the mix.

Located south of Cuba, Jamaica is divided into fourteen parishes and it is 4,244 square miles in area. In 1872, Kingston, with a quarter of the population, was made the capital.  It is located on the South Eastern coast of the island and it is considered the cultural capital.  Like many cities Kingston is large and noisy.  It is also quite modern compared to some of the other parts of Jamaica.  Outside of Kingston Jamaica remains very traditional, with sleepy towns and villages where life moves at a different pace.

Whether they are the descendants of the colonists or recent immigrants people of many different nationalities live and work together in Jamaica. Each culture has added something to the way Jamaicans live their lives.

Jamaican language.

The Jamaican language is another way in which the blending of mixed cultures is illustrated.   The language is a mixture of English, Spanish and African. Jamaica’s official language is English. However many of its residents speak with their own linguistic style.  This can be different from village to village. Most of the language comes from Spanish, African, English and Rastafarian words.  For example, you might hear shoes called “zapatos,” – the Spanish word and people might use the African word “nyam,” meaning “eat.” Jamaican clothing is traditionally very beautiful and very bright.  Colours are used to enhance and celebrate life, and are evident in Jamaican clothing.  Traditional Jamaican clothing is made from Calico cloth. If you take a tour from Green Castle into Ocho Rios or Kingston, you will see this clothing in abundance.  It truly is a beautiful sight.  Another aspect that makes Jamaican culture unique is the Rastafarian clothing.  Clothing is traditionally red, gold and green, after the colours in the Ethiopian flag.  Clothing is always made from natural materials, due to the importance of this in Rastafarian beliefs.  One thing you will see a lot of in Jamaica, whether it is on the beach, in a rum bar or hiking through traditional villages, are the Rastafarian hats.  These are known as Tams and enclose the Rastafarian dreadlocks.

Jamaican food.

Jamaican culture is also enriched by its flavoursome, spicy and unique food.  Using the aromatic spices of the Caribbean the dishes are an unusual fusion of flavours in the world. Most popular on the menu is jerk, a spicy marinade that is added to meat, fish and chicken. However, yams, bananas, plantains, and ackee (a fruit) are popular fruit and vegetables.  You will also get to enjoy corn bread, salt fish and goat curry which make up some of the most traditional dishes. Seafood, which is in plentiful supply is always popular and can be found cooked fresh or in a curry.

Jamaican religion.

Religion or spirituality is also important to Jamaicans.  And the island has churches of many different Christian denominations including Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Presbyterians. But there are also Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Bahai’s, and Rastafarians who live comfortably in Jamaica.

You will also discover ceremonies very unique to Jamaica.  For example which is Kumina is a Jamaican religious ceremony.  This usually involves  dancing, music spirit possession.  Traditionally this is a way of celebrating ancestors and also providing thanks. It can also be used to appease ancestors as well.   Traditionally this ceremony has its roots in African culture, likely stemming from the Congo.  The ceremony is spectacular to watch and a real treat for visitors to see.  Kumina normally is performed when good luck is required but also at significant events such as a wake, funeral or wedding.  Other ceremonies visitors to Jamaica may see include Revivalism and the Nine Nights ritual.

Revivalism, like much of Jamaican culture, has blends of European and African culture, but with a uniquely Jamaican influence.  Revivalism popular in Christianity, here also has an enhanced role for the balance with nature and spiritualism. The Nine Nights ritual is in essence an extended celebration of a persons life once they have passed.  It lasts nine days and involves many aspects of a traditional wake, with music , food, stories and like a lot of Jamaican culture, washed down with a lot of Jamaican rum.  These celebrations are very personal and a lot of fun.  On the ninth night, the burial usually takes place and the celebrations finish.

Jamaican music.

Music, dance and crafts are a huge area of importance to Jamaicans.  The Jamaicans love to express themselves through their music and to celebrate with dance. The most popular form of Jamaican music is reggae.  Reggae has a laid back sound that has become popular worldwide. Many reggae musicians have grown to international fame, including Bob Marley. Today Bob Marleys former home, is now known as the Bob Marley museum which you can visit on your tour to Jamaica.  The popularity of reggae continues and has evolved into Dancehall, a variation of reggae.  Jamaican dancing is unique and has changed over time from the styles of Europeans and Africans.

Jamaica is also home to many artisans who make products out of local and natural materials by hand.  These can be found at local craft fairs and stalls on the street.  Spend a day shopping in the local markets to discover glazed pottery animals, straw hats made of palm leaves, embroidered linens and batik clothing.  You can also find delightful shell jewellery or Rastafarian wood carvings that are usually made of red hard woods. Jamaica culture unique across the world,

What makes Jamaican culture unique?

The chances are you have heard of famous Jamaicans such as Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Jimmy Cliff and Shelly Anne Fraser Pryce. Have you also heard of Portia Simpson Miller?  Portia Simpson Miller has served her country in a variety of roles including Prime Minister, and was voted in 2012 to be one of the most 100 influential people in the world.  Marcus Garvey is another example of what makes Jamaican culture unique.  A political leader, entrepreneur and civil rights activist, until his death in 1940.  He founded the Black Star Line business and his views influenced a wide range of people from the Nation of Islam, to the Rastafarians.

Another aspect that makes Jamaican culture unique is how the country has managed to blend an ever progressive economy for Jamaica with the retention of its history and natural beauty.  Famous historical sites dot the landscape and can be visited on any trip to Jamaica.  The wealth of natural wonders are there for all to see. The world famous Blue Mountains, Green Castle Eco park and Cockpit County give visitors to Jamaica a chance to rediscover nature in its purest form.  Gone are the constant noises of phone calls, replaced with bird song and an ecosystem almost unrivalled on the planet outside of the Amazon.  Whilst staying at Green Castle Eco Park, you can take a guided tour discover the 28 endemic species of bird, as well as see some of the historic sites in Jamaica, combined with incredible views.

Every country has its own style and its own culture and Jamaica is no different, however, Jamaican culture is much like its cuisine, an infusion of many different flavours and cultures evolved from its rich heritage. Discover it today with your stay at Green Castle hotel.