Jamaican Culture

Our unforgettable experiences

Ready Freddy - Driving through the Jamaican countryside is always a scenic adventure, from the livestock wandering along the roadside to the rolling hills and stunning beach fronts. One other such treat for the eye is the famous Fern Gully. No doubt if
Jamaican Patois - Jamaican Patois (pronounced pat-wa) is an English-based creole with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora. The language developed in the 17th century when slaves from West and Central Africa learned and adapted the English they
Rastafarian Culture - Rastafari culture is a relatively new religious movement that arose from Jamaican Christian culture in the 1930’s. One of the more notorious elements of the culture is the spiritual consumption of marijuana but this is by no means the defining
Roadside Shops & Bars - Drive virtually anywhere in Jamaica and you will notice a variety of shops and bars on the side of every road. The entrepreneurial spirit of Jamaicans is alive and well as a closer look into any one of these establishments
The Dancehall - Early dancehall sessions started in the inner cities of Kingston in the late 1940’s and really gained momentum with the advent of the sound systems in the 1950’s. Sound systems are a collection of DJ’s, sound engineers and MC’s that played music

Our Top 5 favorite foods

Blue Drawers - This oddly named dessert is said to have traced its origins back to West Africa, where West Africans would boil a starchy, green banana-based pudding. Blue Drawers is also called Duckanoo, which is derived from the Ashanti word, Dokono which
Pan Chicken - Pan Chicken began its rise to popularity along with the street dance culture that evolved in the 1960’s with the evolution of rock steady, dub, ska and later reggae music. These street dances would include a variety of elements that
Bulla - A Bulla is a round, rich, dark, little load of goodness. This Jamaican pastry is made with flour, molasses, ginger, nutmeg and baking soda, and many visitors to Jamaica compare it to their more popular ginger bread. It is very inexpensive to make and
Johnny Cakes (Fried Dumplings) - Many believe that the origin of the Johnny Cake evolved from workers on the plantation who used to take journey cakes with them into the fields for a long lasting, hearty snack.  And a Journey cake eventually became a Johnny
Patties - The Jamaican patty is local pastry that dates back to colonialism and slavery and it has made its way into the tapestry of Jamaican culture. Jamaicans take a lot of pride in making one of their most popular exports, spices

Our Top 5 Drinks

Sorrel - The most traditional Christmas drink in Jamaica is the attractively-coloured sorrel.  The sorrel plant is a member of the Hibiscus family and when mature in November-December the sepals are a deep crimson colour, though it also comes in white. Home-made
Ginger Beer - Ginger beer is probably the most perfect small beer, similar in taste to the best champagne, with sparkling effervescence.  The Jamaica ginger gives it both exquisite flavour and pungency. In many countries, it is home-made, but in Jamaica a fine
Coconut Water - Coconut water is popular throughout the tropics, being freely available from the young coconut. It is particularly healthy, and useful medicinally for those with low nutrition. Fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie,  and naturally rich in electrolytes — the touted benefits of America’s
Jamaican Rum - Jamaica produces more different rums than most countries in the world and Appleton Estate, started in 1749, is the second oldest rum maker in the world. Appleton has the enviable and celebrated reputation of being the best producer of Jamaican
Red Stripe Beer - The king of all Jamaican beverages, Red Stripe lager beer was created in 1938 by Bill Martindale, of England, who was then working as a brewer for the founders of the Desnoes and Geddes company in Kingston. Red Stripe can

Our Top 5 seasonings

Thyme - There are over 100 varieties of Jamaican thyme, but the most commonly used is garden Jamaican thyme that is easily grown and cheap to buy. It is sold in bunches and may be used as whole sprigs or leaves.  Generally
Scotch Bonnet Pepper - Scotch bonnet, also known as Scotchy,  is one of the hottest peppers in the world, found mainly in the Caribbean islands, and particularly popular in Jamaica, where it has given its name to a chain of restaurants – Scotchy’s. Most Scotch
Escallion - The name “escallion” is used for several members of the onion family such as immature onions and young leeks.  The true scallion has straight sides at the base, showing just the beginnings of a bulb. The Jamaican scallion is far more
Pimento - The pimento tree is indigenous to the Caribbean Islands and was found growing in Jamaica around 1509 by early Spanish explorers  who were quite impressed with the taste and aroma of the berries and the leaves. The name Pimento originated from
Ginger - Jamaican ginger is widely regarded as the best in the world. The plant is thought to have been introduced to Jamaica by the Spanish in the 1500’s. Jamaican Ginger is prized because of its strength and potency which can be

Our Top 5 Fruits

Banana - Bananas were first introduced to Jamaica by Jean Francois Pouyat, a French Botanist and chemist in 1820, he brought the fruit back from Martinique to his coffee estate in an effort to diversify his farm’s produce. It was originally called
Otaheite Apple - The Otaheite Apple is said to have originated in the South Pacific islands and was brought to Jamaica by Captain Bligh who conveyed small trees of three varieties from the islands of Timor and Tahiti to Jamaica in 1793. The
Naseberry - The Naseberry, also called a Sapodilla or Chikoo, is said to have originated in Central and South America. It beares resemblance to a Kiwi but inside has been pre cut into pegs and is the size of a small to medium
Guinep - A Guinep is a small, grape-like fruit that grows in bunches similarly to grapes, with a thick green skin, similar to that of an orange. It has a large seed surrounded by a thin layer of sweet, fleshy pulp Guineps
Mango - The most delectable fruit in Jamaica and also the most commonly enjoyed are mangoes, said to have been first introduced into Jamaica in the 1700’s following the capture of a French ship on its way to Haiti, at sea by

Our Top 5 Jamaican Dishes

Rice and Peas - Sunday lunch is not complete without rice and peas on the table. It is used as an accompaniment to several different meats – stewed chicken, roast chicken or oxtail. The heart of Jamaican rice and peas is coconut milk. Coconut
Jerk dishes - Jamaica’s jerk seasoning has two main ingredients – allspice (called “pimento” in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Jerk chicken, pork,
Stew Peas - Jamaican stew peas is a mixture of stewed beef, pickled pig’s tail and red kidney beans, called red peas in Jamaica. The Rastafarians, and vegetarians, can still enjoy the irie version of this dish without the beef and pig’s tail.
Curry Goat - Curry goat is a dish originating in Indo-Jamaican cuisine that has become so popular it is now regarded as being typical of Jamaica. Curry goat is a popular party dish in Jamaica and at a ‘big dance’ or ‘nine night’
Ackee and Saltfish - Jamaica’s national fruit, the ackee, isthe main ingredient in Jamaica’s national dish, Ackee and Salt fish. Jamaican ackee was introduced to Jamaica really around 1778, probably transported in a slave ship. The plant’s botanical name is Blighiasapidain honor of Captain

Our Top 5 Sweet Treats

Matrimony (Star Apples) - While many people outside of Jamaica hear this word and immediately think of marriage, to Jamaicans, Matrimony also refers to a chilled creamy fruit salad.Traditionally made around Christmas time when the main ingredient – the purple star apple bares, this
Tamarind Balls - The Tamarind is said to have originated in Jamaica with the arrival Indian indentured laborers in the 19th century. In addition to the plethora of other spices, textiles, and traditions – we received the Tamarind. This tree that is often
Plantain Tarts - Another traditional favorite comes from one of our main food staples, the plantain. The plantain is a larger cousin to the banana. The ripe plantain flesh is prepared with a mixture of authentic Jamaican spices such as All Spice, cinnamon,
Gizzada - Imagine biting in to a warm nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger spiced sugart coconut treat – well imagine now longer – simply enjoy a Gizzada. The Gizzada is a coconut tart. The sides of the tart are pinched around it to

Our Top 5 Jamaican Proverbs

“New broom sweep Clean, but old broom know the corners”

Translation:  A profoundly witty statement that sums up any number of current situations, including the state of today’s music. 

“when you dig a hole for somebody, dig two”

Translation:  When you set out to trap someone else, it is very likely that you will end up trapping yourself too

“wha sweet nanny goat a go run him belly”

Translation: Often things we like are not good for us.

“Sorry fi  mawga (scrawny) dog,  mawga dog turn round bite you”

Translation: Sometimes you help someone in an unfortunate situation and they act ungrateful, even hurt you.

“patient man ride donkey”

Translation: Only a patient person can ride a donkey

 

Our Top 5 Jamaican Traditions

Carnival - Carnival, the brainchild of Byron Lee started as a very small affair in 1990. Persistence, commitment and the desire to share the fun and bacchanal scene, and his experience of Trinidad carnival allowed, Lee set out to create something similar
Obeah - Obeah is one of the many Jamaican traditions from our West African ancestry. Included in the slaves brought to Jamaica were healers, medicine men and priests. Many pursued their traditional practices when they arrived in Jamaica. The Obeah-men /women were
Grand Market - The Christmas Market or Grand Market has been a glittering, and probably unique, tradition in Jamaica. It provided great holiday entertainment for children and parents alike. In the past it especially had the flavor of a community fair beginning on
Jonkanoo/Junkanoo - The word “Junkanoo” derived from an African slave master and trader named “John Canoe” in the 17th century. These slaves were not allowed much freedom and would hide in the bushes when they had the chance. While in the bushes,
Nine-Night Tradition - Nine-Nights is a funerary tradition practiced in the Caribbean primarily in Jamaica.  It is an extended wake that lasts for several days, with roots in African tradition. During this time, friends and family come together to the home of the

Our Top 5 Places to eat

Woody’s Low Bridge - Closer to Port Antonio, just past the Blue Lagoon, the rich and Famous quietly slip into Woody’s Low Bridge, a place for fish cake and fritters (stamp and go). Woody’s Low Bridge Place has been operating in Port Antonio since
Boston, Portland - Boston Jerk Centre in Portland is an area well known for its famous jerked foods, including chicken, fish and pork. To accompany the meats you can have festival, breadfruit, hard dough bread or rice and peas. To wash it all
Little Ochi - Located in Treasure Beach, South Coast of Jamaica. Little Ochi Seafood Restaurant overlooks the black sand of Jamaica’s south coast shoreline to present laidback get-away from ‘city life’. They offer fresh from the sea, lobster, shrimp and fish served with
Scotchies - Scotchies — that fiery restaurant brand that has for years been delighting tourists who visit Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston. One of the best Jerk food stops in Jamaica is Scotchies. The spicy and flavorful chicken is a must
Faith’s Pen - Faith’s Pen Vendors – On the main road to Ocho Rios, between Mt. Rosser and Moneague Faith’s Pen is perfectly positioned for travelers to stop for a snack or full meal on the way to or from Ochi.  Around 30

Our Top 5 Spots of Natural and Ecological Beauty

John Crow Mountain and Rio Grande Valley - The John Crow Mountains are a range of mountains in Jamaica. They extend parallel with the north east coast of the island, bounded to the west by the banks of the Rio Grande, and joining with the eastern end of
Portland Bite - Portland Bight refers just to the body of water between the Hellshire Hills (to the west of Kingston) and Portland Ridge (the part of Jamaica which sticks out to the south). The Portland Bight Protected Area is rich in wildlife
Black River Morass - The largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in Jamaica, the Black River Lower Morass is a complex of shallow brackish lagoons, limestone islands, tidal marshes, mudflats and mangroves near the coast, and extensive freshwater marshes with peat formations. Covering about 14,085 acres,
Blue Mountain - The Blue Mountains form the longest mountain range in Jamaica. They include the island’s highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, at 2256 m (7402 ft). On a clear day, the outline of the island Cuba, 210 km (130 mi) away, can
The Cockpit Country - This rugged terrain is characteristic of the Karst topography that defines the area. Limestone is dissolved and removed by subsurface water resulting in underground caverns. As caverns develop, the water table is lowered and eventually the caverns collapse creating sinkholes

Our Top 5 Jamaican Industries

Rum - The manufacture of rum begins with the harvesting of sugar cane. The chopped and milled cane produces a juice which, in turn, creates a byproduct known as molasses, which is the main source of rum.  The molasses is then diluted
Coffee - Of world renown is Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee, which is grown in the range of  mountains at the Eastern end of the island, in the Parishes of Portland, St. Andrew and St. Thomas, at an elevation of over 2,000 feet,
Sugar - By far the oldest industry in Jamaica, since pre-emancipation days, Jamaica was the world’s largest producer of sugar in the early part of the nineteenth century, but suffered a more severe decline in production than any other colony, due to
Mining - During the 1960s Jamaica was the world’s largest producer of bauxite, a position it held until the 1980s. Today, Jamaica is the world’s third largest producer of bauxite, after Australia and Guinea, and has estimated reserves of more than 1.9
Tourism - Tourism began in Jamaica in the 1890s, when the United Fruit Company, seeking to use the excess capacity of its ships, encouraged cruises to Jamaica, and tourist hotels were constructed on the island. Tourism, however, did not flourish until after

Top 5 Jamaican Trees

Mahogany -   Traditional Jamaican antique furniture is principally made from mahogany. The mahogany tree takes up to about 30 years to reach maturity for timber purposes and is known in other countries of the Caribbean as West Indian Mahogany. The wood
Guango Tree - The guango is a large, wide spreading tree which has beautiful proportions and is ideal for shade in parks and pastures. Known as Saman in other  countries, the tree is  native to Central and parts of South America but has
Bamboo - Groves of bamboo are visible all over Jamaica, particularly in areas of abundant rainfall such as the hills and along the Junction Road in St. Andrew and St. Mary. Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest growing plants and the
Breadfruit Tree - The breadfruit  tree is not native to Jamaica. The story of Captain Bligh’s first voyage to Tahiti, in 1787, and the loss of his cargo of 1,015 potted breadfruit plants on his disastrous return voyage is well known. He set
Coconut Palm - The Jamaican coconut tree is one of the most valuable plants to man, providing a primary source of food, drink, and shelter and Jamaicans use almost every part of the coconut. The white nut-meat can be eaten raw or shredded

Indeginous Fauna

Jamaican Iguana - The Jamaican Iguana is the largest native land animal in the country but is unfortunately considered critically endangered (it was actually thought to be extinct until recently) and is now found only in the forests of the Helshire Hills near
Jamaican Crocodile - The species of Crocodile found in Jamaica is actually Crococylus Acutus – the American Crocodile. This species is considered endangered and is protected both internationally as well as here in Jamaica. This is an enormous animal, with males getting to
Jamaican Coney - The Jamaican Coney looks a bit like a really large guinea pig – and that is in fact an animal to which it is actually distantly related. They are generally between 12 and 18 inches and weigh up to 4
Jamaican Boa - Known as a “yellowsnake” to many, the once common Jamaican Boa has suffered through many years of population decline and is now considered an endangered species. The introduction of dogs, cats and pigs to the island as well as habitat
Jamaican Giant Swallowtail Butterfly - This endemic butterfly is the largest swallowtail butterfly in the Western Hemisphere. Historically, it ranged over half the island but is now limited to the Cockpit Country and sections of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. As recently as 1998,

Top 5 Jamaican Birds

Jamaican Oriole - Commonly known as Banana Katie, this is the “Yellow Bird” of  Harry Belafonte’s song. The upper plumage is yellowish green, the wings black and white and the face and upper chest black. Its song consists of two to five whistling
Yellow-billed Parrot - Commonly known as Banana Katie, this is the “Yellow Bird” of  Harry Belafonte’s song. The upper plumage is yellowish green, the wings black and white and the face and upper chest black. Its song consists of two to five whistling
Jamaican Tody - Known commonly as the robin or robin redbreast, the Jamaican Tody is widespread in wooded hills and mountains. Apart from the distinctive breast, the plumage is green, becoming yellow on the abdomen, with pink on the flanks. Todies are found
Ring-tailed pigeon - The ring-tailed pigeon is found only in Jamaica, generally in the Blue and John Crow Mountains and the Cockpit Country. Being 41 cm, it is the largest of the pigeons and doves on the island. The name derives from the
Bahama Mockingbird - The mockingbird is commonly known as the nightingale in Jamaica, and has the sweetest melodious song, particularly at dawn and nightfall. It is chiefly brownish-grey on the upperparts with the wing and underparts mainly white, which is conspicuous in flight.
Red-billed Streamer-tail - “The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird” – thus wrote Ian Fleming in his story For Your Eyes Only. Commonly known as the Doctor Bird
Jamaican Woodpecker - A most attractive bird, with a bright red cap, its back and wings are black, narrowly striped with white. The lower breast is orange and the upper breast brownish-olive coloured. Its habitat is widespread from lowland to mountain forests, where

Top 5 Jamaican Waterfalls

Mayfield Falls - Mayfield Falls is a scenic 1-hour drive from Negril, Jamaica, 1½-hours from Montego Bay, and only ½-hour from Lucea. Centrally located in Glenbrook, Westmoreland, where the Dolphin Head Mountains provide a picture-perfect backdrop, these falls are noted  for their authentic
Reich Falls - Off the beaten track about an hour’s drive east of Port Antonio, Portland, these falls are rated highly by the more adventurous. Guides are available to assist the walk up two waterfalls and explore the hidden cave behind the curtain
Somerset Falls - Located in the lush scenery of the parish of Portland, near Port Antonio, are the tranquil Somerset Falls with the delicate Bridal Veil and hidden falls.  These are the only falls in Jamaica with accommodation as part of the attraction.
Dunns RiverFalls - Jamaica’s best known and arguably most popular tourist attraction, Dunns River Falls’ rustic charm has developed over the years into a modern facility with parking, shopping and refreshment. The falls are a five-minute drive west of Ocho Rios, thus convenient
YS Falls - In the less explored South coast parish of St. Elizabeth is this beautiful eco-friendly attraction.  A jitney ride through a working cattle and horse farm leads to a magnificent seven-tiered natural waterfall which cascades below canopy zip-line tours in the

Top  5 Historical Moments

1962 – Independence - While still under British rule, the Federation of the West Indies , including all the British ruled islands, was created in January 1958 with headquarters in Trinidad, though many of the larger countries, including Jamaica, had objections. Elections for the
1865 – Morant Bay Rebellion - The Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865  began as a protest by local citizens against poor economic and social conditions – unemployment and low wages among them.  On October 11, 1865, two large organised bands of people, who were mainly cultivators,
1833 – Emancipation - The British House of Commons adopted a motion in 1832, calling for a Select Committee to be appointed to put an end to slavery throughout the British Empire. One year later, in May 1833, the British House of Commons stated
1831 – Sam Sharpe Rebellion - Sam Sharpe was a Baptist preacher who had read much anti-slavery literature and when he was 31 years old he called a peaceful strike in the mistaken belief that emancipation had already been granted by the British Parliament. This rapidly
1494 -Columbus Arrival in Jamaica - Columbus first arrived in Jamaica on May 5, 1494 at a bay he named Santa Gloria, near the present St.Ann’s Bay, and was at first greeted with great hostility by the Tainos who forced him to stay at sea. When

Top  5 Heritage Sites

Spanish Town Square - Spanish Town, Jamaica, still retains a fine collection of 18th century buildings in its main square. The Assembly House on the eastern side of the square was built between 1755 and 1762, and finished over several years. It is now
Rose Hall Great House - On the outskirts of Montego Bay, on hills overlooking the sea, the Rose Hall Great House was built in the mid 19th century and is the former home of the legendary White Witch of Rose Hall, Annie Palmer. The Georgian
National Heroes Park, Kingston - The area on which the National Heroes Park now stands was once one of the most popular spots in Kingston. Known previously as the Kingston Race Course, for 101 years, the land was the centre for horse racing in Jamaica.
Morant Bay Courthouse - The Morant Bay Courthouse, which was destroyed by fire on Monday, February 19, 2007, is an important part of the history of St. Thomas. It was the scene of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865. The riot began as a
Devon House - In the heart of Kingston, a heritage site with great house, restaurants and shops. Built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire 127 years ago, this is one of the few tourist attractions in the centre of the metropolis.  Pleasant eating spots

Jamaican Veggies:

Cassava - Cassava, was originally grown by the indigenous tribe of Jamaica, the Tainos, is a starchy, tube like ground provision is extensively cultivated as an annual cropand is a staple with the average Jamaican’s diet. Many enjoy it with all meals
Okra - A great Jamaican vegetable, the Okra was said to be have been brought to Jamaica by the salves of West Africa. This green  inger looking vegetable is of the pepper family, longer than the Jalepeno pepper without the heat and
Breadfruit - Legend has it that the Bread Fruit was brought to Jamaica from Tahiti by Captain William Bligh on his second voyage to the South Pacific in 1793. His main reason for introducing breadfruit to Jamaica was to feed the slaves.
Cho Cho (christophine) - The Jamaican chocho or chayote is an odd member of the family of melons, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. This Jamaican chocho is actually a fruit, it is about the size of a small pear, is boiled or sauted and served
Callaloo - Callaloo, is a Jamaican variety of spinach, a leafy vegetable, and it plays an important role in the Jamaican diet. Steamed callaloo is often served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is cooked with codfish and used in soups, most

Icons in Jamaican Culture

Jamaican Coat of Arms - Jamaican Coat of Arms Description The Jamaican Coat of Arms shows a male and female member of the Taino tribe (Jamaica’s first inhabitants), a shield, five golden pineapples, a crocodile, a Royal Helmet and Mantlings. The Tainos stand on either
Lignum Vitae - Lignum Vitae   The flower of the Lignum Vitae Tree is the national flower of Jamaica. The tree is indigenous to Jamaica and has been an important export crop to Europe since the beginning of the 16th century. The Latin
Blue Mahoe - Blue Mahoe The national tree of Jamaica is the indigenous Blue Mahoe. This tall, straight tree grows to around 20 meters tall and its wood has distinctive bluey green and yellow tints. These streaks can be very clearly seen in
Doctor Bird - Doctor Bird   The Doctor Bird (Trochilus polytmus) is the common name for the Swallow-Tail Hummingbird, the national bird of Jamaica. The feathers have a shimmering emerald green and black colour, a trait which is peculiar to this family of
Jamaican Flag - Jamaican Flag   The current Jamaican flag was adopted on Jamaica’s Independence Day, 6 August 1962. The flag consists of a yellow / gold diagonal cross (known as a saltaire), dividing the flag in to 4 segmanets. The segments on
Ackee - Ackee Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is one of the main ingredients in the popular breakfast dish “Ackee and Saltfish.” Ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica but was imported from West Africa during the 18th century, the

 

 

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