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BITS OF CULTURE - Jamaica
 
Languages
Map
Cultural Values
Main Religion & Death Concepts/Rituals
Health Care Values
Diet
Interesting Facts
 

Languages

Official language:
English

Other language:
Patois

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Map



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Cultural Values
  • Most Jamaican families are headed by women. Mothers bear the primary responsibility for supporting children, as well as raising them.
  • Marriage is less common in Jamaica than other countries. Couples often wait until their children are grown before marrying, and even then, they face the high cost of a ceremony and reception.
  • Jamaicans adore children. Women often raise children alone or in extended families; whatever the arrangement, relatives and neighbors are expected to help with childcare in Jamaican communities.

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Main Religion & Death Concepts/Rituals
  • Chrisianity .
  • Some Jamaicans hold nine-day wakes for deceased persons. The wake is a time for respecting and honoring the departed soul. For nine nights, relatives and friends share food and sing hymns, thus saying goodbye to the departed one.

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Health Care Values
  • After the birth of a child, some rural Jamaicans bury the placenta and umbilical cord in the ground, then plant a sapling over the spot. The tree is known as the baby's tree or "navel-string" tree.
  • Jamaicans use fruits and vegetables for their healing properties.
  • Papaya helps relieve indigestion, while guava leaves treat diarrhea, and tamarind soothes itchy skin and chicken pox.
  • Herbal medicines are popular, and herbal medicine practitioners and balmists, who practice bush medicine, provide treatment for a wide range of ailments.
  • Herbs are administered as an infusion (tea), a poultice or bath. A popular treatment is bush tea, which can contain many ingredients such as lemon, fever grass, sour sop, breadfruit leaves and pepper elder.
  • Emotional or psychological disorders can be treated by applying a cloth dampened with nutmeg oil or lavender water to the patient's head.
  • The herbs "search-mi-heart" and "shame o' lady" are popular treatments for colds and stomach ailments, while ganja can be boiled into a tea for asthma and eye complaints. The cerassee vine is used as an overall health booster and sold in teabags.

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Diet
  • A typical Jamaican breakfast is ackee, a tree-grown fruit that bears an uncanny resemblance to scrambled eggs when cooked. If they eat a large breakfast, usually begins with a hot beverage (coffee, cocoa, tea, or herbal tea), perhaps followed by bammy (cassava bread), green bananas, roasted breadfruit, cornmeal porridge, yam or fried dumplings with salted cod (with or without ackee), herring or mackerel.
  • Lunch is usually a light snack, maybe a heavily seasoned meat or vegetable pie. Rice and peas (either gungo or black-eyed, or beans) often accompany main courses.
  • Main meals usually feature goat or pork, usually curried, served with rice and beans. Seafood dishes are also popular, often pickled and fried with peppers and onions.
  • Jamaica's most popular dish is jerk, a term that describes the process of cooking meats smothered in tongue-searing marinade, and barbecued slowly in an outdoor pit over a fire of pimento wood, which gives the meat its distinctive flavor.
  • Supper is usually substantial. Meat dishes are accompanied by filling foods such as dumplings, sweet potatoes, yams, green bananas, breadfruit, rice and festival, which are fried flour sticks.


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Interesting Facts
  • Jamaica is known to have the most churches per square mile than any other country.
  • One Jamaican wedding tradition is a dark fruitcake liberally laced with rum is served at wedding receptions of Jamaican couples.
  • Following the celebration, the wedding party slices the remainder of the wedding cake and mails them to friends and relatives unable to attend the wedding reception.

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