Jamaican Christmas a Come! | Grand Market, Cake, Sorrel, Jonkunnu

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Blog, Jamaican Culture, Jamaican Food | 0 comments

Jamaican Christmas a Come! | Grand Market, Cake, Sorrel, Jonkunnu
Print Friendly


Jamaican Christmas Traditions

What I enjoy most about Christmas - in Jamaica and at home - are the unique traditions in our cultures and histories that make us who we are, and that celebrate the things the season represents - family, faith, community, generosity and love. Jamaican Christmas traditions celebrate all of these things, but you'll have to look beyond the obvious!

If you're visiting Jamaica during the holidays, you'll probably find that today's Jamaican Christmas is nearly as commercialized as Christmas in the U.S., Canada and Europe. If you manage to escape from the all-inclusive resorts, however, don't expect to see as many Christmas lights, artificial snow, trees and other decorations as you might see at home. But be ready to eat, drink and be merry!

Jamaicans are predominately Christians, so the Christmas holidays are special. Many Jamaican Christmas traditions have British colonial influences, as well as African, Indian, Spanish, and other cultural influences that have given the nation its rich diversity. Some traditions, like Jonkonnu, have faded, but you may still see a performance here and there.

Here are a few a few things to look for and a little about the history/origins of each.

(Click on the numbered sections at the bottom to continue. You will see this introduction on every page, so please scroll down the page to keep reading!)

I wish you a Happy Jamaican Christmas!

Reggae Christmas Music


Make it an IRIE Jamaican Christmas with some classic reggae tunes!

Is one more syrupy rendition of White Christmas about to send you over the edge?

Some people just hate Christmas music; others don't think reggae and Christmas songs belong together. Well, not everyone lives in a winter wonderland. I think Christmas reggae is perfect for those of us who spend the holidays in a warmer climate. And, if it's freezing where you are on this holiday, these tunes will warm you right up!

"There is a long history of Christmas music in Jamaica that stretches back to the earliest days of ska and the sound systems. Since Christmas releases were an important part of the American R&B, blues and country genres that were the foundation of the Kingston sound systems, it was only logical that they would become part of the Jamaican record industry as well. Every year, new releases join the old favorites to become part of the ongoing tradition, but that tradition has stretched considerably over the years. Now we can add boughs of collie, CB400s and natty dreadlocks to the Santa Clauses, Christmas trees and mangers of your typical American/European celebration.

Reggae Christmas music tends to take one of four approaches to the classic material. Some artists adopt a traditional approach and create more or less faithful renditions of familiar songs and others create something new. Some artists use Christmas songs as raw material for social/cultural commentary." [From "A Reggae Christmas" by Lee O'Neill]

For me, there's nothing more fun during Christmastime in Jamaica than hearing reggae versions of traditional Christmas songs sung by my favorite artists, from ska to lover's rock to dancehall. Reggae has the unique ability to be religious without being preachy, corny, or sanctimonious. It can also be wickedly funny!

The 25 tunes I selected may not be the traditional Christmas fare of chestnuts roasting on an open fire that you're used to, but they're upbeat, fun and brilliantly Jamaican.

Be sure to enjoy the rip-roaring ska of Bob Marley & The Wailers singing "Sound the Trumpet" (#17 below). This vintage gem is 50 years old this year! And, although they're not Christmas songs per se, the final two picks, from two of my favorite reggae voices - Buju Banton and Gramps Morgan - are beautiful and fit with the season. We can always use a prayer or two.

We wish you PEACE and LOVE this holiday season!!


#1 - Lee "Scratch" Perry & Sandra Robinson -
"Merry Christmas, Happy New Year"

Get the MP3: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year


#2 - Dennis Brown - "Ding Dong Merrily on High"


#3 - The Jolly Boys - "Long Time Ago In Bethlehem"


Get the MP3: Long Time Ago In Bethlehem


#4 - The Joe Gibbs Allstars -
"Let Christmas Catch You In A Good Mood"

Get the MP3: Let X-Mas Catch You In A Good Mood

#5 - Luciano - "Christmas Is Here"


#6 - Shaggy - "Jamaican Drummer Boy"

Get the MP3: Jamaican Drummer Boy


#7 - Maxi Priest - "Merry Christmas Baby"

Get the MP3: Merry Christmas Baby


#8 - Sanchez - "Christmas In The Air"

Get the MP3: Christmas In The Air (dancehall Mix)


#9 - Wayne Wonder w/Baby Cham - "Warm Jamaican Christmas"

Get the MP3: Warm Jamaican Christmas

#10 - Barrington Levy - "I Saw Mommy Kiss A Dreadlocks"

Get the MP3: I Saw Mommy Kiss A Dreadlocks


#11 - Ini Kamoze - "All I Want for Christmas"

Get the MP3: All I Want For Christmas

#12 - Lady Saw - "Rich Man For Christmas"

Get the MP3: Rich Man For Christmas


#13 - Kulcha Knox - "Ho Ho Ho (Never Put A Foot Inna Mi Yard)"

Get the MP3: Ho Ho Ho

#14 - Yellowman - "Breadfruit Roasting On An Open Fire"

Get the MP3: Breadfruit Roasting on a Open Fire (The Christmas Song)


#15 - Michigan & Smiley - "Drummer Boy"

Get the MP3: Drummer Boy


#16 - Alton Ellis & The Lipsticks - "Merry Merry Christmas"

Get the MP3: Merry Merry Christmas


#17 - The Wailers (Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer) - "Christmas Is Here [aka Sound the Trumpet] (1964)"


#18 - John Holt - "Blue Christmas"

Get the MP3: Blue Christmas


#19 - Mighty Diamonds "Frosty The Snowman"

Get the MP3: Frosty The Snowman

#20 - Beres Hammond - "The Christmas Song"

Get the MP3: The Christmas Song

#21 - Faith D'Aguilar - Santa Ketch Up (Inna Mango Tree)

Get the MP3: Santa Ketch Up (inna Mango Tree)

#22 - Kiddus I - "Love Child"

Get the MP3: Love Child

#23 - Floyd Lloyd Seivright - "Mary's Boy Child"


#24 - Buju Banton feat. Gramps Morgan - "23rd Psalm"

Get the MP3: 23rd Psalm

#25 - Gramps Morgan feat. Buju Banton - "Power of Prayer"

Get the MP3: Power of Prayer (feat. Buju Banton)
If you have other favorite Jamaican Christmas songs, let us know in the comments!



SHARE THIS: facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
468 ad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>