THIS HISTORY OF GRAN MARKET IN JAMAICA

The roads are blocked from vehicular traffic. It is usually one of the main roads in every Parish. The music man strings up his system, the vendors display their wares, the foodies secure a spot for visibility, the police are on double duty, the air is festive, the mood is delightfully friendly. As the night slowly crawls on the parishes, the crowds begin to swell. Soon it will be body to body, with little room for careless movement. This is Gran Market, a Jamaican experience like no other.

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On Christmas Eve, Jamaicans look forward to “Gran’ Market”. This is a day-and-night event which goes on until early hours of Christmas Day. It is also a chance for Jamaicans and visitors to the island to buy a wide range of items at much reduced prices! It is also one of the few times that Jamaican children are allowed to be out of their homes beyond 10 pm.

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Wares on sale include toys, games, clothes, household appliances, food such as jerk chicken, fried fish, pineapple, sugar cane and jelly water. Of course, the peanut vendors whistle through the town square and people step gingerly on sidewalks to avoid stepping on vendors’ wares. Oh, forgot about the sound systems!

The “Gran’ Market” is an activity that dates back to “slavery”. The Africans were given few days off from their labor in the sugar cane fields. On Christmas Eve, they dressed in their finest garments, met up with others in a central place and sang, danced, played drums until the wee hours of the morning. It was also a chance for them to sell their homemade crafts such as baskets, hats and brooms.

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In recent times, rural vendors are seen at Gran’ Market in the numerous markets around Jamaica. They load their donkeys with the produce very early in the morning, some of them walk with bottle lamps to the main roads where they board the “country” buses, their wares heaped unto the tops. Wares include fresh fruits, vegetables, sorrel, ground produce, flowers and imported items. Famous markets in Kingston included the Victoria Craft Market, at the bottom of King Street and of course, Coronation Market. There is also the most famous Falmouth Gran Market.

Let the party begin!

Thanks NeoMakeba for original story.

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