Christmas in Jamaica Back in My Day

When I was a child, I lived in Kingston, Jamaica (people back home call “Town”) with my mother and father. I went to a really nice prep school and had great friends and lived an all around charmed life. But nothing excited me more than spending Christmas with my aunts, uncles and cousins in the cool hills of Christiana, Manchester (“Country”) each year.

I awake in the mornings to the sound of rosters crowing at sunrise, which got everybody in the house up. Now, all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and stay in the warm bed, but soon enough, you’ll hear my aunt calling all the children, rounding us up for breakfast. By now the radio is on and it’s playing Jamaican Christmas carols and the neighbors or extended family members are passing by the house heading to market.

December 23rd is considered “killing day”, don’t get scared now, it’s a day when farmers with livestock butcher their best cattle, goats, chicken and pigs to sell in the local market in the town center. Everybody heads to the market to purchase meat, and other groceries that will become a feast for the entire family on Christmas day. No need to get fruits or vegetables, that all grows in our back yard.

Now comes my favorite part of Christmas, December 24th, “grand-market day”. I save the best outfit in my closet for this day. Around 6 o’clock in the evening, we all get ready to head to the town center. When we get there, we find a good spot, where we can see Santa rolling through the streets handing out candy. One of my uncles would stay in that spot for us while all the children walk from one end of the town to the next (less than ¼ of a mile), looking for Christmas goodies, such as fireworks, toys and street food. By the time we get back to our spot we are exhausted and just in time to see Santa. All the festivities and seeing everyone and enjoying that community atmosphere is all what Christmas is about to me.

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