Christmas may be a global affair, but many classic Christmas carols are still decidedly not. In Jamaica, we don’t roast chestnuts on open fires or ride in open sleighs. And we definitely aren’t dreaming of a white Christmas. Lucky for us though, many of our composers have written songs that reflect the uniqueness of Christmas in Jamaica.
1. Make the Christmas catch you in a good mood by Home T-4
Written by the legendary Mikey Bennett, the song made a big splash when first released. Let this classic remind us not to let the crosses of 2020 dampen our Christmas spirit! Put on some good dancing shoes and get into the vibe of the most wonderful time of the year.
2. Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come to the Ghetto?) by Carlene Davis
While this doesn’t fit the joyful theme we expect in Christmas songs, it remains a favourite across the region. Released in 1992 by Carlene Davis, the lyrics speak to the hardships many still face, particularly during the holiday season. Its continued relevance probably helps fuel its popularity.
3. Rich Man for Christmas by Lady Saw
Prior to abdicating the dancehall throne, the artiste formerly known as Lady Saw gave us this Christmas classic. Sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the dancehall lyrics and theme root it firmly in Jamaican culture. Where else in the world could anyone come up with something like this?
4. Christmas a Come
Ask anyone to name a Jamaican Christmas song and any of the above might come to mind. But say a Jamaica Christmas carol and we bet none would top this. This folk song is said to go all the way back to slavery, giving us one of our direct lines to our ancestors. Words like ‘lama’ and ‘deggedeh’ are no longer part of our common vernacular, but this song remains a treasured part of our Christmas tradition.
With all the changes this Christmas, the songs may be one of the few constants. Missed any of your favourites? Tell us!