Local traditions and culture in Jamaica

  • Locals at a Food and Chemical Store in Falmouth
    Locals at a Food and Chemical Store in...
    by atufft
  • Directions to a Restroom
    Directions to a Restroom
    by atufft
  • Locals Working on the Rafts
    Locals Working on the Rafts
    by atufft

Most Viewed Local Customs in Jamaica

  • eddymario's Profile Photo

    Rasta culture

    by eddymario Updated Dec 1, 2004

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    Rastafari & Jamaican Culture

    Rastafarians pushed Reggae music to the forefront when Bob Marley became an internationally known artist.

    Miss Lou was one of the early pioneers trying to preserve Jamaican culture especially 'patois'. Jamaican patios is now sprinkled with 'rasta' terminology. The Rastafarian culture has helped to galvanize the use of Jamaican patois as a means to rebel against a society where the dialect is sometimes looked upon as being "un-cultured". The use of the word "I" and 'I-an-I" is sprinkled across Rastafarian terminolgy and has its roots in the self emphasis which many black people were denied during oppression and slavery. The use of the word Jah (Psalm 68 vs 4) for God which is used by Rastafarians is now used by many Jamaicans. Other examples are the use of the word "babylon" for any type of establishment and "Idren" for children.

    Red, Green and Gold (Yellow)
    The colors of the Ethiopian flag (red, green, yellow) are now popularly identified with Rastafarians.

    The dreadlocks hairstyle popularized in Western culture by Rastafarians has become universally identified with Jamaica and Reggae. People from all walks of life use it as a symbol of protest or as "going natural". Read more about this in the article on Dreadlocks.

    Medicinal use and study of herbs has been advanced by the Rastafarian movement. Once only reserved to "Herbalist" in the countryside of Jamaica, the Rastafarian movement took the practice of using herbs to all aspects of the Jamaican population. Their adherence to natural medication and their many uses of marijuana has provided a stepping stone for many scientific studies of many of the herbs in Jamaica. They have been at the forefront of the legalization of Ganja worldwide for use in their religion and also for medical purposes.

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    by Astrobuck Written Nov 9, 2004

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    In Jamaica, when anyone provides a service to you like loading your bags, driving you to your destination, or whatever, it is customary to tip. Usually about 2-3 US Dollars will suffice, so be sure you bring many US1 dollar bills. Try not to give someone a 5 and expect 2 or 3 dollars back. For some reason, they do not understand the process of giving you 2 dollars back in exchange for a 5. It is just easier and less frustrating that way.
    Another note: Try not to be too intimidated, but they expect a tip for everything. Be forewarned, they have a tendency to demand tips. I asked a baggage handler there where the line was for American Airlines. He showed me then asked for a tip. I gave him a dollar and he got angry.

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    by Niablue Updated Nov 3, 2004

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    You just have to remeber one rule - respect the people there no matter what they are - this is the only way to be treated good in return too. If you go there you will see for yourself what I have in mind by saying this.....

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    1/2 finished houses

    by Dabs Written Mar 27, 2004

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    We've noticed many partially finished houses as we've traveled through Jamaica. Various guides have explained that the interest rates are very high in Jamaica (as much as 70%) so people save up and then add onto their houses when they can afford to.

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    Brown dogs

    by Dabs Written Mar 25, 2004

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    Our guide pointed out that dogs in Jamaica are all brown, some small, some large but I don't think I saw a non brown dog the entire trip.

    This fella was hanging around Alligator Hole, I would have slipped him in my bag if I thought I could smuggle him through customs

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  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo

    Be sure to see the children going to school...

    by Pawtuxet Updated Feb 18, 2004

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    We were struck by the kids going to school in immaculate school uniforms...Catholic schools. Wish I had better pics of them in larger groups. Couldn't understand how the mothers were managing so well...when they often had to be at work early in the AM .. working very long hours. Yet those uniforms were starched and pressed! You can see two of the kids in this pic if you enlarge photo.

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    Ackee with Salt fish

    by ultchuk Updated Jan 4, 2004

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    This looks like brains but it's a part of the national Jamaican cuisine. This Ackee fruit is pear shaped, bright red to yellow-orange, and when ripe, splits open to reveal large black seeds, surrounded by soft, yellow flesh. The fruit of the Ackee is not edible. It is only the fleshy parts around the seeds that are edible. The remainder of the fruit is poisonous The taste and look is a bit similar to scrambled eggs. Ackee together with salt cod fish is the national dish of Jamaica.

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    about the weather

    by venteeocho Written Oct 23, 2003

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    Our favorite time (and everyone else's) is November-April -- Jamaica can be very crowded then. The temperature is fairly stable year-round, so it's possible to visit in other months as well. Winter coastal-area day temperatures are in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C. June-September is usually in the 80s-90s F/30-35 C. Nights tend to be 5-10 F/3-5 C degrees cooler everywhere. Temperatures in the hills and mountains are usually cooler than on the coasts by 5-10 F/3-5 C degrees -- bring a sweater for cool nights in the mountains. Kingston, on the leeward (southern) side of the island, is drier, hotter and generally more uncomfortable than the windward (northern) shore. Always be prepared for rain showers in the Blue Mountains. The hottest time is July-October, when the humidity, heat and hurricane possibilities are the highest. Most rain falls between May and October, but even then, it generally comes in brief showers and seldom ruins anyone's vacation

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  • tpangelinan's Profile Photo

    Jamaicans are friendly.

    by tpangelinan Written Apr 5, 2003

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    Jamaicans are imported themselves, so they say you only have to be in Jamaica for 5 minutes to be a 'real Jamaican'.
    The friends we met liked to hear stories about traveling all over, as it is very hard and costly for a VISA (travel permission) for Jamaican residents.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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    Christmas in Jamaica

    by asgottl Written Mar 11, 2003

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    Christmas is a magical time on the island. At midnight on Christmas Eve, the community gathers in the square, sings Christmas carols, and hands out presents to the children. It's a time for love and sharing.

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    Jamaica is...friendship

    by Joan58 Updated Mar 2, 2003

    In Jamaica people are friendly, but just little detached at first sight. Maybe they have their troubles, maybe I am Italian and can't speak English well. But this is just my first impression, because if you are nice to everyone, you can meet a lot of friends.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Jamaica is...Rasta

    by Joan58 Written Feb 21, 2003

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    Jamaica is Rasta. Here people are proud of their African roots. Rasta religion believes Ethiopia is the land of origin. Rastamen call it Zion and the rest of the world is Babylon. The beard is a symbol of their agreement with Jah, the dreadlocks are the symbol of lion's mane and the Holy Bible is their source of knowledge. Their moral principles go by fraternity and universal love. They live in close contact with the nature, eat only natural food, don't aspire to have material goods except what is necessary.

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  • rachel_sun's Profile Photo

    Some people may try to befriend you!!!

    by rachel_sun Updated Oct 31, 2002

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    Some people may try to befriend you to get money off you,but some people are genuine and friendly.Restaurants add service charge to the bill mostly,but if you are unsure if they have,ask them.Tipping of tour guides is appreciated.Do ask to take a picture of someone beforehand.
    Here i am trying to fly the plane

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    Leave that Red Pen at Home

    by mdchachi Updated Sep 12, 2002

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    Don't write on forms with a red pen! The customs official told us it was rude to do so in Jamaica and made us rewrite our entrance forms.
    Generally when a tip is expected they'll make it clear that they're expecting one. There was no tipping on our resort but we tipped baggage handlers, drivers and tour guides. I never found out whether or not these service-industry folks make a living wage or really need tips but I still tipped small (refused the porters help with the bags at the airport, etc.) since I'm a cheapskate. One baggage handler (who didn't actually do that much) went around the bus extorting money out of each passenger, at least $1 per person. I hope he shared it with the other guys who were working as hard as he.

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    More birds

    by bkathryn Written Sep 7, 2002

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    I couldn't decide whether to put these 'wildlife' pictures in as 'cultural' or 'off the beaten path' - I decided cultural. We spotted this large white water bird - probably some kind of stork or heron - in Falmouth.

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Jamaica Local Customs

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