KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s warmth and unspoiled beauty offer travelers a delightful escape any time of the year, but with the coming Easter holiday – one of Jamaica’s biggest seasons for celebration – travelers can enjoy the island’s unique traditions coupled with special holiday savings at resorts, hotels and villas, as well as select attractions.
In Jamaica it is customary to refrain from cooking on Good Friday, so fish – a culinary staple during the Easter period – is prepared on Holy Thursday. Another popular Jamaican tradition is to place an egg white in water on Holy Thursday night so that it reveals one’s future by Good Friday morning. If the egg white forms a ship or airplane, for example, it means travel.
Aside from enjoying the abundance of tasty fish paired with bread on Good Friday, many Jamaicans are likely to attend a church service to reflect on Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Good Friday is also marked by the bleeding physic nut tree, which, when cut, spurs a red substance representing the blood of Christ. It is also believed that the crucifixion was carried out on a similar type of tree.
On Easter Sunday Jamaica’s churches are bursting full of attendees. Churches and homes alike are decorated with the snow-white Easter lilies which suitably bloom on Easter Sunday. The flower, with its graceful, falling trumpet, is considered to embody the purity and innocence of Christ and His resurrection. The communal church services are followed by a home-cooked family dinner of rice and peas, and fish.
Easter Monday is perhaps the most fun-filled day of the Easter holidays. Some friends and families might opt to relax together by the beach. For the lovers of soca and calypso music, Easter Monday is often celebrated reveling in the streets while decorated in brightly-colored, jeweled costumes as part of a weeklong Carnival.
Throughout the Easter season, the sweet treat called Easter buns are a staple. For generations, the nutmeg and cinnamon-spiced bread, packed with raisins, cherries, and currants, and paired with cheese, has been enjoyed by Jamaican households. To make your own Easter buns, see the recipe below.
Jamaican Easter Bun Recipe
½ bottle stout (optional)
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
½ tablespoon browning
1 tablespoon molasses
½ pint milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup raisins – soaked in water or liquor
½ cup mixed peel
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice or mixed spice
1 tablespoon cherries
½ tablespoon allspice
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm the stout on low flame. Add browning, sugar, molasses and butter. Stir until dissolved. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices. Add chopped fruits – ensure raisins are drained – to the mixture. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Remove from oven when ready, and allow to cool. Glaze with sugar water. Honey and melted butter can also be used.
Recipe courtesy of: Nyam Jamaica & Trevor Ferguson, Owner, Golden Bakeries
The all-inclusive Sunset Jamaica Grande invites Jamaican families to celebrate this Easter holiday back home. By booking a Single (US$169), Double (US$240) or Triple (US$290) occupancy from April 1-6, Jamaican travelers can use the code ESTR to upgrade to ocean-view accommodations. This offer comes with the added perks of a $100 gift certificate towards a future stay and guaranteed reservations in specialty restaurants. The first of two children, aged from 3 to 12 years, stays free with two adults, while there is charge of $45 per night for the second child. www.sunsetjamaicagrande.com
Foote Prints on the Sands Hotel is offering the Easter Eggs in Jamaica package, which gives guests a full free breakfast when they book their stay directly through the hotel. The package can be booked now through April 2, 2010. www.hotelfootprints.com
The Hilton Kingston is offering discounted Easter holiday rates starting at $65 per person per night, based on double occupancy, with breakfast buffet included. Children under 12 stay free in rooms with adults. Guests are invited to experience a taste of Easter Jamaican-style with activities such as Good Friday Seafood Night & Karaoke and Poolside Easter Sunday & Monday Brunch (not included in the room’s rate). Booking must be done by March 29 for traveling from April 1-5, 2010. For reservations, contact the hotel directly via email at [email protected] or call +1-876-926-5430. www.hiltoncaribbean.com/kingston
Treasure Beach Hotel, lined by Jamaica’s eco-friendly South Coast, offers Easter savings from April 1-14. The Superior garden-view room will be available for US$72 per night, while the Deluxe oceanfront room will be available for US$85 – both based on single or double occupancy and include breakfast. www.jamaicatreasurebeachhotel.com
The charming Jamaica Inn is offering reduced rates on all rooms from March 28 until April 15, 2010. The Balcony Suite will be available for US$490; the Deluxe Veranda Suite will be available for US$594; the Premier Veranda Suite will be available for US$735; the Cowdray Suite will be available for US$764; and the Blue Cottage will be available for US$797. Guests can also enjoy savings of up to US$300 on other suites. Booking must be done by March 28, 2010. www.jamaicainn.com
Villas by Linda Smith, featuring some of Jamaica’s most luxurious private villas, is offering seven nights for the price of five. Guests are invited to unwind with family and loved ones during the Easter holiday at the private staffed villas, each with personal pool, chef, butler, and housekeeper. www.jamaicavillas.com
Firefly Beach Cottages is offering couples the first of a five-night stay for free at the luxury beachfront penthouse suite stretched along Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. For families, Firefly is offering the first of a five-night stay in a large two bedroom apartment for 6 to 8 persons for free. Booking must be done by March 31, 2010 for travel from now through April 15, 2010. www.jamaicalink.com
The serene Coyaba Beach Resort welcomes guests to reserve any accommodation for all dates from now until April 15, 2010 and receive each third night free (that is, third, sixth, and ninth nights free). The booking deadline is April 10, 2010. www.coyaba.biz
Singles and couples are invited to indulge in the Carib Beach Apartment’s Romantic Oceanview Special, where the first night of a five-night stay is free of charge. These private, nature-inspired ocean-front studios are located on Negril’s Seven Mile Beach. Booking must be done by March 31, and travel is valid now through April 15, 2010. www.jamaicalink.com/carib
For the outdoor lovers, Forres Park Resort and Spa offers the Easter Mountain Retreat package. Blue Mountain Peak hikes, waterfall tours, bird watching, and more can be enjoyed with three daily meals for US$137 per night (two nights minimum stay, double occupancy). Booking must be done by Mach 26, 2010 for travel from April 1 to 5, 2010. www.forrespark.com
Chukka Caribbean Adventures, the award-winning nature adventure tour provider, offers 20 percent off excursions from April 3 to July 31. Travelers can discover Jamaica’s natural beauty through thrilling escapades such as the Zipline Canopy Tour, Flight of the White Witch, Chukka River Tubing, and Jamaica Dogsled Encounter and Experience. www.chukkacaribbean.com