Posted in Blog, Religion

Celebrating Easter in Jamaica

It is well known that Easter is very important in many Countries around the world. But in Jamaica? Easter is celebrated with a four-day weekend, where most businesses and all schools are closed. Everyone looks forward to this weekend if only to rest. But there are those who have traditions, that are still carried out today. There are staple foods that are ‘mandatory’ at certain holidays or times of the year. Easter is a big one.

Hey, my Sno Flakes! Welcome back! Come sit down and get this tea. Allow me to refill your glass. Hopefully, you have been following along with the latest posts. So recently, I updated you on my move to Jamaica. That was challenging, but I did it successfully.

Little Dunns River, is now closed to the public.

Now back to Easter. Easter is a very important holiday. After all, it is the rising of our Lord Jesus Christ. But here, the entire weekend is important, not only for Christians but for everyone. From Friday to Monday is a National Holiday, and is celebrated among the entire Island with activities and traditions.

We start with Holy Thursday with the start of Lent, which is well known and celebrated as representing the withdrawal and sacrifice of Christ. Traditionally, they will abstain from meat on Friday and fish is eaten instead. Thursday evening, the cooking of fish and Bun is done. No cooking is allowed on Good Friday, so it is all done the night before.

The term “Good” in response to Good Friday is an Old English expression meaning holy. On Friday, the fish n bun is wrapped in foil, and carried with them on the road, everywhere to eat all weekend. Believers go as far as to bring a snack of fish n bun wrapped in foil to Church with cheese. The church is attended on Good Friday, as well as Sunday.

Spiced bun with cheese

Bun is referred to as ‘spiced bun’. It is eaten with a slice of cheese all weekend. ‘Easter bun’ is the main tradition in Jamaica at this time of year. Jamaican bun is made of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, Guinness, (yes beer), brown sugar, honey, molasses, and egg. It has a deep, rich flavor and it is normally made in a loaf pan and served as slices and with cheese. You may see home baked in aluminum foil, or it can be purchased at the local markets. You might see ‘Easter bun’ or at other times of the year, ‘Spice bun’. Although I prefer it without cheese, it is really good!

Among many other, older traditions in the Carribean is ‘egg in wata’. I am actually not sure if this is still practiced here in Jamaica. However, I am told at midday, around noon, an egg white (only) is placed into a bowl and set in the sun to ‘dry’. Depending on what shape it takes, it can predict your future. For example, a cross or a church means you will soon find marriage. The shape of a fetus, you will have children, and so on.

It is said in Jamaica, that the crucifying of Jesus was done on a cross made from the Physic nut tree. On Good Friday alone, (as told by an elder Rasta), the nut tree bleeds at exactly twelve o’clock. The sap oozes a red liquid known to represent the blood of Jesus Christ. He says any other time of year, the tree looks ‘nawmal.’ I would have loved to see this for myself.

We all know that everyone, believers or not attends Church on Easter. It is believed that Easter is the best time of year for anyone in the clothing retail industry. The same goes here in Jamaica. People who never attend church all year, show up in the best outfits, in all white on Easter.

The most fun of activities, for many, is the Celebration of Carnival. Carnival is celebrated in honor of freedom from slavery. There are parades, exquisite costumes, food, dancing, and parties around the Island. The costumes in itself are something to see. They can range from simple to exotic. Some with masks, dressed as ancient spirits. Depending on your budget, regular attendees have special custom-made outfits for Carnival. Although it is a local celebration, people from all over the world attend Carnival, not just in Jamaica, but Canada, Africa, the UK and so many more places.

The last day of this four-day weekend, the day after Easter, Monday. Most families pack coolers and picnic baskets and go to the beach. Here in Montego Bay, it will be Harmony Park, which is free, or Dr. Cave Beach. Dr. Cave is $1100 jmd for entrance and the same for a chair. So if you are planning a beach day, Monday may be busy so go early.

This picture is older but represents local Jamaicans in dance, celebrating the Yam festival. Credit to:

Pre-pandemic, there was also the annual Yam Festival in Trelawney. 60% of the island’s yams are grown here. They are a huge part of the economy of rural Trelawny. The festival began in 1997 to raise money for local farmers. You will see yam wine, punch, pudding, and anything you may think of yam. There is also a parade, various entertainment, contests among the locals, and so much more. One thing is for sure, expect good food, music, dancing, and making new friends!

Being that I am foreign, I am excited to see what Easter brings this year. I love to learn about culture and education of how people around the world are different. Hopefully, being the pandemic is over, everyone can go back to celebrating their long-awaited weekend, and National holiday.

Thank you for following me on this adventurous holiday weekend. I send love to you and your family. No matter how you choose to celebrate, (or not), make sure to choose to celebrate in the way best for you and your family. Until next time, I will have the tea ready. Keep your glass half full, sweet and southern.