6 Fascinating Christmas Customs & Traditions in Jamaica

November 22nd 2023 in Explore
6 Fascinating Christmas Customs & Traditions in Jamaica

6 Fascinating Christmas Customs & Traditions in Jamaica

People all around the world are getting ready to celebrate Christmas, with various unique traditions taking place depending on the country. If you’re thinking about spending Christmas in Jamaica this year or just curious about its customs, then you’ve come to the right place!

Let’s dive into Christmas customs in Jamaica that you should definitely know about!

Jamaica Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions first began in Jamaica in the 1700s when the island was under British rule and slavery was rife. Work on the plantation would stop from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and gifts of cloth and meat would be given by the slave owners to their slaves. Sometimes, even wine was given and there would be dances and masquerades on the plantation in the evenings.

Since this time, Christmas customs in Jamaica have grown and become more prevalent and unique to the island. An island known for its warmth and vibrancy, this is certainly reflected in its festive celebrations.


The derives from the masquerade dances that took place on the plantations hundreds of years ago and is now a beloved annual tradition.

The event is a fusion of African dancing and British folk plays that take place throughout the festive period. As you wander around the streets of Jamaica, especially in the more populous areas, you’ll definitely see Jonkonnu events. Traditionally, the people partaking in the dance would move from house to house to get money from the wealthy. However, nowadays, it is a public event for all to enjoy.

A treat for all the senses, the dance features music created from fifes, rattles and whatever can make a great noise. The dancers are then dressed as caricature characters such as King, Queen, Devil, Cow Head and plenty more.

The Gran’ Market

One Christmas custom in Jamaica that you definitely don’t want to miss is a visit to the Gran’ Market. Wherever you’re visiting on the island, a Gran’ Market will be nearby. Held in all major towns and cities across Jamaica, this is their version of a Christmas Market.

Opening up on Christmas Eve and not closing until the early hours of Christmas Day, the market is the place to get all your last-minute shopping for family and friends, often with sales so you can pick up a bargain. An elaborate event, many who attend come in Sunday Best as the streets begin to fill with music, dancing, a lot of great food and beautiful items for you to purchase.

Once the evening comes, the stunning Christmas lights come alive and the party really begins. Vendors will say Jamaican delicacies such as jerk chicken, sugarcane and boiled corn.

Midnight Mass

After visiting the Gran’ Market, another one of Jamaica’s Christmas traditions is Midnight Mass. A special church service is held on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning.

This service is very commonly held all over the world and won’t be unfamiliar to many. Though this isn’t an event that all will attend, with many choosing to party until Christmas day, it is definitely popular with Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

Christmas Carols

In a country famous for its music and sound, it’s unsurprising that this is a big part of Christmas in Jamaica. Many smaller local artists will release Christmas albums, as well as the sound of Christmas classics filling the streets with a Jamaican twist.

Jamaica has their own popular Christmas songs including, ‘We Wish You An Irie Christmas’, and ‘Christmas Behind Bars’.

Whilst you’ll hear plenty of vibrant live music as you wander around the towns and cities to give you a flavour of their Christmas culture, attending a church service is a great way to embrace the Christmas carols.

A Jamaican Christmas Breakfast

In the UK it’s fairly common to have a full English or just come chocolate ahead of the big Christmas dinner, however, things are a little different with Christmas customs in Jamaica.

Traditionally, a Jamaican Christmas breakfast is made up of ackee, saltfish, breadfruit, boiled bananas and fried plantains. Fruit juice and tea are served on the side as the whole family tucks into the first delicious meal of the day.

A Traditional Christmas Dinner In Jamaica

One of the Christmas components that many of us around the world look forward to is Christmas dinner. Here, it is no different, with a Christmas dinner in Jamaica composed of glazed roasted ham served with curried goat, oxtails and fish cooked in traditional Jamaican stles, such as jerk or peri peri.

Many Jamaicans would see Christmas as incomplete without a roasted ham, a dish that takes some time to prepare but is well worth it. Glazed and roasted, the ham is then topped with pineapple, cherries and gloves to give it an unmissable flavour.

If you are having Christmas dinner in Jamaica, then you’ll also find gungo, a dish made with rice, peas and red kidney peas. However, it is also readily available throughout the festive season if you won’t be on the island for the big day.

Whilst there are certainly familiar aspects of Christmas in Jamaica, there are still lots of unique traditions for you to enjoy. A great choice for spending the Christmas season, it will be considerably warmer than the UK, but don’t be surprised to still see people wrapped up as the temperature does drop come December.

Discover Christmas customs in Jamaica for yourself and visit using Finalrentals car hire services this season!