According to Rebecca Tortello, a contributor to the Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaicans are some of the most tradition-loving and superstitious people on the planet. She cites the fact that Jamaica is one of the most religious countries in the world as the basis for Jamaicans' love of traditional adages and superstitions. As evidence of that claim, she cites the large amount of tonics and cure-alls available in Jamaican markets. In accordance with these cultural mores, Jamaicans possess a number of superstitions and traditions on and about birthdays.
In Jamaica, it is traditional that the birthday boy or girl -- no matter the age -- be covered in flour. This can be done in multiple contexts; sometimes it happens within the context of a party with dancing to reggae music. Other times, a friend or family member simply engineers a situation in which the person whose birthday it is gets doused in flour. Sometimes guests attending the birthday celebration accidentally get covered in secondary flour coatings.
Birthdays & Superstition
There are many superstitions surrounding marriage and how to achieve a happy, lifelong marriage. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, one of those marriage superstitions involves birthdays: in Jamaica, many consider getting married on the bride or groom's birthday to bring bad luck.
Jamaicans celebrate birthdays much in the way that Americans do. Many Jamaicans hold birthday parties at which family and friends come together to sing and dance, share birthday cake and other foods and sing the same birthday song prevalent in the United States.
The Jamaican Birthday Song
Jamaicans also have a birthday song of their own, which is not identical to the American birthday song. The Jamaican version was popularised further by a Jamaican singer by the name of Miss Lou on a television show called "Ring Ding."
Bob Marley's Birthday
It is a testament to the importance of Bob Marley as a Jamaican cultural icon -- even long after his death -- that Jamaicans hold birthday bashes and celebrations to mark his birthday on or around February 6 of every year. The Jamaican city of Negril, for example, holds an annual birthday bash for Bob Marley in February. Rastas -- followers of the Rastafarian lifestyle -- in Jamaica also hold celebrations every year to mark Bob Marley's birthday. The song's lyrics consist almost entirely of the words "happy birthday" and the melody very closely resembles that of Allan Sherman's "My Zelda."
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- "The Jamaica Gleaner"; Jamaican Folk Customs and Superstitions; Rebecca Tortello; August 2007
- Jamaican Traditions; Birthday Parties; Kori Collins
- Jamaica Max: 16th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Bash in Negril, Jamaica
- Jamaicans.com; Jamaican Culture: Traditional Jamaican Happy Birthday Song; July 2011