Jamaican Independence Day, which marks Jamaica’s independence from rule under the United Kingdom, is still fresh in many islanders’ minds. The road to independence started after World War II, through a process that is referred to as “constitutional decolonization.” Between 1944 and 1962 constitutional changes were periodically made and on August 6th in 1962 Jamaica became a new nation. On August 6th, 2018, Jamaica will celebrate 56 years of independence, a defining moment in their history which many citizens remember first hand and which those too young to recall have grown up hearing these stories.
Independence in Jamaica is a big deal, as it is still something so fresh in the minds of its citizens. It was also a huge turning point away from British and American cultural practices and the solidification of the Jamaican identity as unique and unapologetic. That is one reason why, unlike in Canada where Canada day is celebrated on only one day (maybe throughout the long weekend if you’re so inclined) Jamaicans spend a whole week celebrating Jamaican independence, from July 29th to August 6th. This is in part because another important national holiday in Jamaica is on August 1st, Emancipation Day, which celebrates the end of slavery in the British Empire.
The week-long festival was created as a way to help establish the Jamaican sense of identity, which is an incredibly unique mix of cultures who have come together to create food, music, and style that is unmistakably and authentically Jamaican. The Independence Day parade, hosted on August 6th, features a military display as well as messages on independence delivered by various national leaders.
A considerable part of the festivities include food, both casual bites and full-on festivals. The Ocho Rios Seafood Festival is renowned during the week-long festivities. Hosted in Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios on August 5th, the festival celebrates all things seafood, featuring high-school and celebrity cook-offs as well as activities for all age ranges. It is the perfect opportunity to sample some Jamaican delicacies during Independence Day celebration week.
One of the best parts about the fact that Independence Day is celebrated for an entire week, especially because it is during the summer, is that it gives Jamaicans living around the world, an estimated 2 million, the opportunity to come back to Jamaica to celebrate their heritage. Not only that, but the celebration is a huge tourist attraction – one of the mainstays of the Jamaican economy. It is a wonderful way to be introduced to Jamaican culture and is a window into how much Jamaican culture has influenced the rest of the world’s cuisine, fashion, and music.
If you go to Jamaica to celebrate Independence Day or take part back home, then there is a wide variety of food you can eat to celebrate. This includes the ever-popular jerk chicken, as well as curry goat, oxtail, or ackee and saltfish which is the national dish of Jamaica.
The week of August 6th we encourage you to celebrate Jamaica with us. Our Jamaican restaurant in Brampton has every dish you need to feast. Come by our jerk house and raise a toast to Jamaican Independence Day on August 6th.