I’ve been thinking about old time Jamaican wedding customs. Why? Because my younger sister recently got married, and, oh, what an occasion it was! Being so integrally involved in the planning process got me wondering though: What about our local weddings in the past distinguished us from other countries? And are these customs still practiced today? After some extensive research, here are nine old time Jamaican wedding customs that were once very popular, especially at country weddings.
Some time ago, I sat across from my guy, watching the television while he cleaned some ackees in preparation for the ackee and saltfish meal he planned to cook for us the following morning (oh yeah!). Suddenly, he looked up at me, quite perplexed, and said (I’m paraphrasing here): “Di government mus do somting bout […]
I recently stopped by the Coconut Industry Board’s retail outlet, the Coconut Shop, located on Waterloo Road in Kingston to buy a gallon of coconut water. The Coconut Shop also sells other coconut-based products like coconut oil, gizzadas, grater cakes, bustas and coconut drops, as well as other items such as plantain chips, plantain tarts, […]
“We must have both turtle and vegetable soups.”
“… and turtle served in the shell…”
Thus said fictional character, Caroline Mortimer, mistress of fictional sugar plantation, Amity, in Andrea Levy’s historical fiction “The Long Song” (2010). Although a fictional conversation, it does reveal what many historians have found in their research about the gastronomic extent of Jamaica’s plantation days: turtle meat was once greatly indulged in by the colonialists, as well as exported.
That’s right. It was recently brought home to me once again that although I’m far from home, Jamaica can be right here with me in my new location, China. It’s really just a matter of perspective. After all, being Jamaican isn’t just something that happens because it says so in your passport. Nope. Being Jamaican is in the way we move, walk, talk, dance, sing, hold conversations with one another, and in what we eat and how we prepare our foods. So what if all of this and more occurs outside of the physical geographical boundaries of Jamaica Land We Love?
Let me explain…
Our past abounds with moments in which music was used to lighten hard labour. Music is an indelible part of who we are as Jamaicans so it’s no mystery that music played such an important role in our work/labour history.
Today is the 93rd anniversary of the birth of Mrs Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called Miss Lou by the nation. Miss Lou was born on September 7, 1919 and she died on July 26, 2006.
As a poet, Mrs Louise Bennett-Coverley’s poems were social commentaries on events and daily life as she saw and experienced them at the time. Included in her many poems were four surrounding Jamaica’s Independence movement. Here is one: “Independance.”
After you’ve read the poem consider the following question: What do you understand to be Miss Lou’s commentary on Jamaica’s Independence with this poem?
Have you ever taken a moment to consider the origins of some of our traditional foods? Take the ackee, for instance, Jamaica’s national fruit and one half of our national dish, ackee and saltfish: it was introduced to Jamaica. And so was the breadfruit.
That’s right folks, it’s guinep season! And the vendors are out in their numbers selling this most sought-after yummy summer fruit once again. And in many cases you have the option of tasting the fruit before purchasing. Hence the phrase “taase an buy” (English translation: “taste and buy” or “taste then purchase” or “taste the fruit and, if you like it, then you can purchase”).
Do you know the kitchen bitch? Okay, let me put you all at ease. No I’m not using a derogatory term in reference to someone, or talking about a female dog. The kitchen bitch was once a common item in many households in Jamaica.