Hi guys! Welcome to Day 3 of Blogmas 2020 on Adventures from Elle. If you’ve missed other posts in the Blogmas series, catch up here. Today I’m taking you on a reggae Christmas musical journey. Jamaica’s predominant religion is Christianity so we play a lot of traditional Christian carols in our homes and we sing them in our churches at Christmas. American Christmas classics make it on our airwaves too and a lot of us can sing these songs word for word, BUT it’s not really Christmas in Jamaica until the reggae Christmas tunes start playing. It’s a bit ironic that even devout Rastafarians have thrown their hat in the ring at remixing Christmas classics and putting a Jamaican spin on it, but regardless, these are a mixture of reggae Christmas classics which have made their way into our hearts and homes, and a few others which.. well, you’ll just have to see.
Here are 12 reggae hits which are on my 2020 Christmas playlist:
Welcome Home for Christmas— Fab 5. Jamaica has a population of close to 3 million people, and is said to have a diaspora which is just as large, meaning we have a next 3 million people who don’t reside in the island but identify as Jamaican either based on birth or parentage. There are also Jamaicans overseas as temporary residents based on work or school, and what do they all aspire to do at Christmas time? Come home (yaad). If you’re in that lucky group boarding a plane or ship home this Christmas, Fab 5 says a hearty welcome!
Mek the Christmas Catch You In A Good Mood— Joe Gibbs. If you don’t catch the Christmas spirit after listening to this song, you’re probably a grinch! Once this song plays, you can’t help but rock a little. I mean, that’s what he says to do right? “Put on your dancing shoes, and come with me tonight! We’re gonna rock ’til broad daylight.”
Wish You A Irie Christmas— Jacob Miller ft. Ray I. You’re over there wishing people Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but that’s lame! Jacob Miller would rather wish you a irie Christmas and a dancehall New Year. Sounds good to me!
Christmas JA— Neville Willoughby. As someone who has spent every Christmas and winter season in the tropics, I must say I’m intrigued by the idea of snow and winter clothes during the festive season. Likewise, for my readers in the temperate and polar climes who have never experienced a tropical Christmas, you probably wonder what’s our Christmas like. Well, Neville is here to your rescue. He’ll answer all your questions, and maybe will leave you a bit envious of our sea and sun. “The beaches are nice, much nicer than ice.”
Christmas Breeze A Blow— Fab 5. While Jamaica has no distinct seasons, December and January are usually noticeably cooler compared to other months of the year because of the cold trade winds from the North. Those trade winds are colloquially termed “Christmas breeze” in Jamaica, and it’s such a relief from the hot winds which blow throughout the rest of the year. This refreshing breeze inspired another Fab 5 hit titled “Christmas Breeze A Blow.”
Santa Ketch Up Inna Mango Tree—Palmina and Faith D’Aguilar. We have no fireplaces and chimneys in the Caribbean, so I guess if Santa Clause had to deliver gifts in Jamaica, he would have to climb mango trees and drop them into houses through open windows. However, he’s clearly not used to that means of delivery as yet because.. well… he got stuck in a mango tree, and these two ladies captured his predicament in song.
Christmas in the Sun— Stage Crew. If you’re not coming to Jamaica this Christmas, save yourself the badmind (jealousy) and don’t even bother play this song. This band literally rubs it in that you’re freezing off your rear end in the snow up north in the most cheeriest, friendliest manner possible. But hey! “Down in Jamaica, there’s hot sunny weather and people are warm and friendly all the time.”
Rich Man For Christmas— Lady Saw. Lady Saw (Marion Hall) is now a repented church minister and likely makes Santa’s nice list, but back in the day she didn’t stand a chance. Thus, she knew any goodies at Christmas time had to come from a consort and well.. who better to grant her wishes than a rich man. In this song, she croons her desires for a rich man at Christmas.
Santa Clause (Do You Ever Come to the Ghetto?)— Carlene Davis. On a melancholy note, Carlene Davis expresses her dissatisfaction with Santa Clause’s preference for uptown, that is, the more affluent side of the island. It seems he has neglected ghetto youths, and honestly that’s not right. Ghetto youths need Santa’s generosity even more than the privileged.
Christmas Jamaica Style— Unique Vision. This is another song you should perhaps skip unless you’re spending Christmas in the tropics. No need to have it rubbed in that you’re freezing and racking up a high heating bill, while we’re enjoying warm Jamaican sunshine for free. Again, a warning. If you’re not spending Christmas in Jamaica, listen at your own risk.
Crime Free Christmas— Tarrus Riley. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could get this wish granted? Crime in Jamaica is terribly out of hand right now. In 2016, twelve artistes backed by corporate Jamaica created the Crime Free Christmas Initiative to spread positive messages and Christmas cheer through music. Many Jamaican artistes hail from volatile communities and were able to defy the odds and overcome poverty through music, so music is often hailed as an outlet for many at-risk youths in Jamaica. The project was deemed a huge success, and Tarrus Riley’s headlining song for that project is still very relevant today.
Fi Di Christmas— D’Burnz. Rounding out the list is the most recent song on my playlist. I was hooked on the chorus after hearing up-and-coming reggae artiste D’Burnz perform the song live at the Jamaica Youth Chorale’s 2018 Christmas concert titled ‘Lux Aeterna’ held at my alma mater UWI by the Phillip Sherlock Hall. It was truly a magical night and performance, and I’m surprised the song hasn’t had more success. However, Christmas songs get a chance to make a comeback once a year, and perhaps 2020 will be the year this song gets the recognition it deserves. “Mi nuh wah nuh blood a run fi di Christmas, sorrel alone fi red inna the streets. Mi a beg di shotta dem fi grant mi dah wish yah, ah fireworks alone fi a beat.” Nuff said! The whole song is a lyrical masterpiece and was beautifully delivered.
If you made it this far, I figure you may be interested in bringing Jamaica into your home this Christmas. Thus, I made a playlist with all 12 songs mentioned in the article for you to enjoy.
Let me know how you liked it and which song is your favourite. Also, did I leave out any hits? Spread the Christmas cheer in the comments below, and feel free to circulate this article with your friends and families, especially other Jamaicans abroad who could do well with some local Christmas cheer right now. Take care!
See you on Tuesday.