5 Unusual Traits That Make The Jamaican Family

Jamaican Family

The Jamaican family has evolved over the years. Before it was the typical nuclear family with traditional values, and now it is blended, single parent, etc. But there are some things that never change and will always stay the same no matter the millennium. Here are 5 things that make up a Jamaican family.

Fake relatives

 Aunty this and uncle so and so are people you will come to find have no blood relation to you whatsoever. In Jamaica, it is customary to appoint people as honorary aunties and uncles. One of the core Jamaican family values is respect for older people.

You may have developed a familiar relationship with an older person due to their proximity to your family or your community, but it would be too formal to refer to them as “Miss or sir”, but too informal to address them by their first names. The perfect in between used by Jamaicans is to refer to them as an aunty or uncle.  This practice demonstrates one of the key tenets of Jamaican etiquette…”mannaz and respec’” (manners and respect). 

Secret Identities

Picture this, you go to a funeral to mourn your uncle Johnny, only to hear the pastor announce that this ceremony is to commemorate the life of Everton Eustatius Brown…….come again? Who on earth is that?Many times in Jamaica, the only way we will know people’s real name is at their birth or their funeral. People tend to go by aliases that are nowhere near their government names. Aunty Pearl’s real name is Curdella Smith, Uncle Richie’s real name is Delroy. If you have Jamaican parents, you might not even know what their real names are. Take a peak in their passport and you might be in for a big surprise.

Sunday dinner

Jamaican families and food; a match made in heaven. The best way to start the week is a big Sunday dinner with family. The wait is unbearable.. Hours upon hours but the wait is worth it. Sunday dinner is not complete without a full plate of chicken or curry goat with rice and peas, mac and cheese and a slice of pear.

The barrel

 It would not be a Jamaican family. if we did not mention our loved ones of the diaspora, our people in “farin” (foreign). Jamaicans can be found anywhere in the world because we search high and low for better opportunities, but we never forget our family back home.

The infamous barrel is a container full of goods that are usually less expensive abroad that is shipped down once or twice a year. Parents who go abroad to work often send down school supplies and clothes for children. Relatives may send down rice, canned meat, diapers and so much Irish spring soap that even when it is all done, you will still be smelling like minty freshness.

Endless kindness with a touch of aggression

Maybe you overheard a conversation between Jamaican family members and wondered what could have caused such strife. But in reality, that “argument” that you heard was really just a normal conversation. In Jamaica, actions speak louder than words, but if you get on their wrong side those words have a way of becoming actions.

Jamaicans are the kindest and most hospitable people on Earth, and are simultaneously the more aggressive and confrontational. They will go above and beyond for family, but will also tell their loved ones about their “what’s it not” and other words of affection here and there.

These five things are just a handful of traits that make up a family in Jamaica. Jamaican families are extremely tight-knit and will put each other before anything else. 


Ashley Haynes

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