I grew up reading the Jamaica Star newspaper
As a little girl growing up in rural Jamaica, the Jamaica Star newspaper was a major aspect of entertainment for me.
I remember the Star came out every Thursday and on Friday morning; I would walk from yard to yard asking my neighbors whether they had bought a copy of the Star, so that I could borrow it for reading.
In those days, not everyone could afford to purchase newspapers such as the Jamaica Star newspaper, so whoever bought a newspaper would read it first and then pass it around to the other community members for their reading pleasure as well.
Just recently a friend and I were reminiscing about our childhood days and we touched on the subject of the Jamaica Star newspaper.
We started to recall our most fun memories of things we used to read in the Jamaica Star newspaper and we both agreed that unique Jamaican traditions is our most fun and poignant memory.
We laughed so much recalling these traditional customs from the Jamaica Star newspaper and others which were told to us by our parents and older community members that I quickly went about writing this article to share some of them with you.
It is important to note that some of these traditions are not unique to Jamaica but also practiced in other Caribbean islands as well, reflecting our common ancestral background.
Never let a pregnant woman fix your hair during her first trimester period as your hair will certainly fall out or start breaking badly if you do (Personally, I don’t believe this but my sister claims her hair started to fall out when she unknowingly allowed a hairdresser who was newly pregnant to do her hair).
If you want your pumpkin or melon crop to flourish, just get a pregnant woman to walk up and down through the garden and your crop will be the best you ever had.
If a family member wakes up to find a boil on any part of their body, it means that another female family member has fallen pregnant (My mom and aunt swear by this one; they knew from the very night my sisters and cousins conceived as they woke up with boils the following day- scary!!!).
Whenever someone dreams about fish, it also means that someone close to them is pregnant.
Up until the mid-90’s, most newborn babies in Jamaica were delivered at home by community mid-wives. A primary ritual of these home births was to plant a tree with the navel string/cord of a newborn baby buried by its root. Popular belief is that this special tree will grow fast and flourish exponentially (Well I personally planted a coconut tree with the navel string of my third eldest niece-the tree never grew).
You must place a mixture of frankincense and myrrh on a newborn baby’s forehead and leave it there for up to one year to ward off evil spirits from coming near the baby. I believe this ritual is still being practiced in rural areas all over the Caribbean but I don’t know for sure.
A bible must be opened up over the head of newborns for up to two years after birth to also ward off evil spirit. I saw this being done when I was growing up as a young child in rural Jamaica.
If a baby is born with a big navel- simply use your saliva to rub the navel at nights whenever you hear a donkey braying and that will shrink the navel right down to normal size (My mom told me that my sister Angel was born with a very big navel and this ritual was what she used to bring the navel down to ordinary size).
TELLING THE TIME
In olden days people used the shadow or reflection cast by the sun to tell the time. This I know to be true- even today I can still tell the relative time from simply looking at the shadow cast by the sun.
At nights, certain animals were relied on to tell the time. Roosters crow at exactly 12 midnight, 4:30 and then again at 5:30 AM. Donkeys also start to bray at 4:30 AM. For the most part we could rely on these animals to give us accurate timing- I certainly relied on them to wake up early in the mornings and do my 5 miles walk in order to catch the school bus- but I recall there were a few mornings when my mom and I were out walking from 1:30 AM, thinking that it was close to morning.
Going to the market to sell farm produce was a primary source of employment when I was growing up. Back then market vendors travelled in groups and wake each other up by making a loud cry that sounded W-O-O. Therefore whomever lived the farthest would wake up first and start the journey- when they arrived at the first vendor’s gate they would sound a loud W-O-O to wake the next person up and this would continue until they got to the last house and everyone was together.
There is a popular belief in the Caribbean that the spirit of a dead person raises on the 4th night of death. You can imagine my own fear when a family member died and this was told to me for the first time- I couldn’t sleep for days!
In order to get over the ghostly fear of someone who had died you need to go stand alone and look at the grave at nights in order to overcome that fear- this I know for sure works. My uncle introduced me to this and once I did it- all my fear was gone.
There is a general practice that whenever a wife or husband passes, the surviving spouse must wear either black or red underwear religiously for 2 years to prevent the spirit of the deceased partner from coming back to caress their private parts. Wives had to go a step further as they must also wear a tape measure with 12 small balls attached to it around their waist for the same period……the power of belief!
Whenever the middle of your hand itches, it means that someone is going to give you money (almost everyone I know said they have proven this one to be true but it has never manifested for me).
Ringing in your ear means that someone is gossiping about you. I can’t imagine that this is true because in this day and age when gossiping is a multi-billion dollar industry- many people would go crazy with their ears ringing off!
If your nose sweats, it means that your romantic partner is cheating on you or as we like to say in the Caribbean- giving you bun.
I hope you enjoy my little take on my memories of the Jamaica Star newspaper.
These unique local customs always make me laugh and from time to time I call my mom to ask her about others I might not have known about.
I will be bringing you more fun memories of the Jamaica Star newspaper as time goes by so keep posted and keep reading the Jamaica Star newspaper; but in the meantime, feel free to share your own customs and traditions below. I'd love to hear them!
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