Christianity  was introduced to Jamaica with Roman Catholicism through Spanish plunderers. In 1655, the British plundered and Church of England (later called the Anglican Church) became the state church. In 1754 the Moravians landed in Black River as the first missionaries, and devoted themselves to the conversion of Jamaica’s non-white population. They were followed by other groups – Baptists in 1783, Methodists in 1789, and Presbyterians in the early 19th century.

Because these non-conformist denominations preached a message of equality for all men, they met with extreme and at times violent opposition from the slave-owning class and the state church. 
In 1860, there was intense religious activity called the Great Revival. It started in the non-conformist churches, using vibrant evangelism to spread Christianity throughout the country.
In this time of religious fervour, African elements and rituals (whuich were still entrenched in the lives of the ex-slaves) intermingled with Christian beliefs, and the outcome was a genuinely Jamaican religion called Revival. It features spirit possession, and music as a central feature of the worship experience. The two branches of Revival are known as Revival Zion and Pukumina (Pocomania).
In 1872 the Church of England was disestablished as the state church. Newer denominations such as Salvation Army, African Methodist Episcopal (AME Zion), Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Mormons and Bahai came in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The largest single denomination in Jamaica today, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, came to Jamaica in 1894. The Pentecostal movement started in Jamaica from about 1918. It blossomed in the 1940’s when missionaries from America came to the island during an upsurge in American Revivalism.
Pentecostalism appealed to the poor who had been alienated by the established churches. It encompasses many fundamentalist groups that interpret all of the Bible as literal truth, and emphasise the experience of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the late 20th century and into the 21st century, many more churches and denominations have been established. These are often movements that break away from previously established churches. Many start out as Crusades, held under a tent. 
Although the Seventh Day Adventists (who worship on a Saturday) are the largest denomination, they are far outnumbered by Sunday worshippers, most of whom belong to the Pentecostal movement.



 Superstitions permeate many aspects of Jamaican life, with cultural influence from Africa. Most of these beliefs are born out of fear of the unknown; fear of what happens after death and how it can affect the living. And Jamaicans generally fear the wrath of the spirit, colloquially in Jamaica as the “duppy”.

Some say the duppy rises on the third day after the burial and returns to the house to wander around his/her possessions, finally leaving on the ninth night. Relatives and friends gather at the house of the dead to welcome his return and send him back to the grave. Often cause for celebration, “nine-nights” are held and on the ninth night; an all-night vigil is sometimes held.

Omens of death include: the unusual crying of animals, birds or insects; the crowing of a cock inside the house. The sudden occurrence and abrupt end of a rain shower on a clear day and a loud knock on the door or roof for no apparent reason. If you add to a house or cut down an old tree, you must kill a goat or a chicken and shed the blood to prevent the death of someone in the house.

To rid the house of the ghost of the dead person, you can also burn rosemary and scatter rice. Place 10 coffee beans in the ‘dead’ room and no duppies can enter – they can only count to nine. The husband or wife of the deceased must put on a piece of black cloth with a white cross made of chalk. This is to be worn for the next four to five months.

If you leave a wake, simply touch a person who is to leave with you – do not announce it – so that the duppy does not follow you home. You should also walk backwards and turn around three times since duppies walk in a straight line.

Duppies can take on the shape of humans or animals and are also able to change themselves into different forms. They can talk, laugh, sing, cook, smoke, ride horses and generally do anything a human can. If a duppy is dressed in black, he is friendly. If he is dressed in white, he is dangerous. 

As generations come and go one wonders if this heritage of Jamaica will vanish with changing times. Superstition or not, the countless symbolisms and stories that are a part of this heritage give the  Jamaican way of life meaning  and an identity. In another 100 years when tbe face of Jamaica will undoubtedly change, our heritage will stand untouched and win the test of time. 

We are who we are, our ancestors arrived on this island not by choice but by necessity and brought with them rituals and customs that were planted with deep roots. Jamaicans may change their face, the color of their skin, their technology and even their hair, but Jamaicans we will always be, anchored by those roots planted centuries ago by our African forefathers.

A people’s relationship with their heritage is the same as a child to its mother and roots to a tree. 



BREADFRUITBetween 1780 and 1786 Jamaica suffered from alternating hurricanes and long periods of drought that destroyed crops. “Slave” provision grounds were hard hit and there was a major food shortage. The planters were concerned because they knew that without a reliable food source, slaves would die of starvation.

There was talk about a tree in the Pacific Islands that provided a source of ‘bread’ all year round. The planters offered large rewards to any captain who would bring back such a miraculous plant. Captain William Bligh, an experienced 33-year-old seaman, sailed from Portsmouth, England for Tahiti and Timor to collect seedless breadfruit plants and deliver them to Jamaica.

Five months and over 1000 plants later, Bligh set sail for the Caribbean nut two weeks into the voyage, the crew mutinied. They set Bligh and 18 crew members adrift an open boat and threw the breadfruit plants overboard. Some were even used to stone Bligh. The mutineers set a course for Tahiti, leaving Bligh with very little food, dependent on his pocket watch, sextant and his navigational skills for survival. Luckily for him they were outstanding.

Bligh was exonerated and sent on a second voyage to collect the breadfruit. This time, he managed to deliver more than 2,000 plants representing five different varieties to the Caribbean. On February 5, 1793, his ship, The HMS Providence, landed in Jamaica, stopping first at Port Royal and moving on to Port Morant where some of the trees were unloaded and planted at the Bath Botanic Garden where some of the trees remain today. Plants were also distributed to other parishes.

Bligh was awarded 1500 guineas by the Jamaican Assembly. The breadfruit grew naturally on Jamaican soil. Today, the breadfruit tree can be found all over Jamaica and enjoys strong ties to Caribbean cuisine. On that 1793 voyage, Capt. Bligh also introduced what we now call otaheite apples. Their name comes from their island of origin,iti, which in the 16th and 17th centuries was widely known as Otaheite.



ricenpeas“Rice and Peas” is the undisputed winner of the title “Most Eaten Jamaican Food”. Other Jamaican dishes like jerk chicken may be well known internationally, but rice and peas is the old faithful that we have every Sunday, that can accompany every meat dish known to man, that makes Jamaicans feel at home even when we’re far away.

The Jamaican version of this dish derived from the Akan cuisine Waakye and is made in a similar way except without millet leaves, baking soda and stews. There is no pepper nor thyme in the Waakye version. Thyme was introduced by the British in Jamaica, and Jamaicans started using pepper in their dishes.

African slaves played an active role in the establishment of rice in the so-called “New World” and African rice was an important crop from an early period. Rice and bean dishes were a staple dish among the peoples of West Africa, and they remained a staple among their descendants subjected to slavery.

In Jamaica, planters supplied slaves with weekly rations of salted fish and slaves agitated for the right to have and maintain small parcels of land as subsistence farms. The enslaved planted coconuts, rice, kidney beans, and gungo beans also called pigeon peas. They figured out a way to use all their crops, hence cooked rice and peas with fresh coconut milk, herbs and spices.

Why Sunday?

The ‘freed’ slaves were only granted one day from work , achieved  through rigorous negotiations with owners as many owners feared that allowing their slaves to go to church could make them able to read, which in their estimation was detrimental to the plantation. The Missionaries insisted that Sundays should be a day of worship and with mounting pressures from England, along with oftentimes subtle sabotage on the plantations,  the slaves were granted their request and a law was passed forbidding the slaves to work on Sundays and holidays. The act said in part….

“Article VI. We enjoin all our subjects, of whatever religion and social status they may be, to observe Sundays and the holidays that are observed by our subjects of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. We forbid them to work, nor make their slaves work, on said days, from midnight until the following midnight. They shall neither cultivate the earth, manufacture sugar, nor perform any other work, at the risk of a fine and an arbitrary punishment against the masters, and of confiscation by our officers of as much sugar worked by said slaves before being caught.”

The freed slaves would therefore use Sundays as the day of honor, sometimes having big gatherings after Sunday service to not only honor that day of rest, but for the preservation of the family, the socializing with neighbors and more importantly reaping the fruits of their harvest. It is from this tradition that Sunday was seen as the Family day, a day of thanksgiving where the best of everything was displayed , used and celebrated.

The dish is very nutritious. Rice is rich in starch, an excellent source of energy. Rice also has iron, vitamin B and protein. Beans also contain a good amount of iron and an even greater amount of protein than rice. Together they make up a complete protein,] which provides each of the amino acids the body cannot make for itself. Rice and beans are common and affordable ingredients, often available in difficult economic times.
Thanks to #NeoMakeba for original post.