6 Jamaican Tips for Being a Gracious Guest This Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is around the corner, in one month to be exact.  Although it is not a traditional Jamaican holiday, many of our members of the diaspora have adopted American holidays during their time abroad. After all, Jamaicans are some of the most family-orientated people, as familial closeness is deeply embedded in Jamaican culture. We might not regard the historical importance of Thanksgiving in American society, but we will appreciate any excuse to be around our loved ones; especially if it involves food. 


It is customary for a designated matriarch or patriarch to host many family members during the holiday season. If you plan on visiting your family in the U.S (farin), then you might want to brush up on your manners before booking that flight. Here is the Jamaican guide on being a gracious guest this Thanksgiving.

Bring Tings From Yard

Chances are your hosts will have some sort of connection to Jamaica, or were born in Jamaica but have not been home in a long time. They have probably sent down the occasional barrel full of goodies. Don’t arrive empty-handed. Bring them a piece of home to lighten their day. A pop of irie will lift their spirits in the dead of winter. A souvenir like a Jamaican t-shirt, some snacks, or authentic scotch bonnet sauce will definitely remind them of home.

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Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Wash Di People Dem Dishes

Show that you have manners and “broughtupsy” by helping out wherever you can. You may be a guest in their home, but you should still try to take some of the burdens off of the hosts. They opened up their home to you and put a lot of effort into making their space hospitable.

 The least you can do is wash your plate after eating the meal that they spent hours preparing for you, or spreading your bed in the morning. Show your appreciation by lightening the load and respecting their space.


Small Up Yuhself

Be mindful of the space. The shared bathroom is not the place to perform the entire Chronology album when you haven’t even put soap on the rag yet. Be how long you are spending in the bathroom, especially if there is only one. Think about how you would want to be treated in your own space. 

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Nuh Be “Kunu-kunu”

“Kunu-kunu: a Jamaican term of unknown African origin that describes someone who is anti-social or standoffish.”

Another way to be a gracious guest this Thanksgiving is to participate in family activities and talk to other members of the household. Even if you are not on good terms with one family member, try to not create an awkward atmosphere by being stand-offish and passive aggressive. Everyone is there to celebrate love and harmony, so play your part in creating a harmonious atmosphere.

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Practice Good ‘BEDTIQUETTE’

“Nuh go inna di people dem clean sheet and yuh kin dutty”

Do not go into people’s clean sheets with DIRTY SKIN or sit on the bed with your outside clothes, especially if you will be sharing a bed with someone else. In Jamaican culture, good hygiene is highly revered. The tropical climate in Jamaica makes it customary for people to shower up to three times per day. This may sound excessive to our loved ones in colder climates, but this is our reality in Jamaica. With temperatures falling as we approach winter, you might believe that since you deh a “farin” you do not need to bathe as often. Heed our advice and go bade!

Gah Yuh Yard

Never overstay your welcome in someone’s house. If they are hosting you for Thanksgiving, do not stay till Christmas. As much as we love and cherish our family and loved ones, many people have set aside a specific budget for the holiday in order to accommodate everyone. Overstaying your welcome will put your host in an uncomfortable situation and give them unnecessary stress since they will have to go over their budget and rearrange their plans to accommodate you. If they have already gone above and beyond to make your stay memorable, be gracious and know when to leave.


Also, please do not visit your loved ones during Thanksgiving with the intention of “running off”. This will put them in a VERY sticky situation. If you abscond after staying with them, do not expect them to invite you to Thanksgiving again next year.

Jamaicans abroad and at home value family time more than anything. So any excuse to link up with relatives will be acted upon by yardies. Use these tips for your Thanksgiving link up this year, and bring back a piece of turkey for us!



Ashley Haynes

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