Besides religious and national holidays, Jamaicans have a number of historic and cultural celebrations. On January 6, the Maroons (offspring of escaped slaves) gather to celebrate the Accompong Maroon Festival, which honours Cudjoe, who led the Maroons to a temporary victory over the British during the war of 1729-1739.

February is carnival month throughout the Caribbean. In Kingston, the University of the West Indies hosts a two-week celebration; people assemble for fashion shows, calypso competitions and all-night dances. During the month of April, Jamaica holds its own Jamaica Carnival, beginning on Easter Day and lasting for a week. In August, the Jamaica Festival coincides with celebrations of Emancipation Day and Independence Day. The festival features competitions in all the major arts, as well as culinary arts. People also enjoy beach parties, calypso, reggae, and soca music.

Labour Day (May 23) originally celebrated the activities of the trade union movement, but since 1972 it has been a day for community service, which includes repairing roads, painting schools, and planting trees and decorative shrubbery. Independence Day, celebrated on the first Monday in August, is entirely given over to celebrations that mark Jamaica's independence from Britain.

Christmas is the biggest family event of the year. Jamaicans celebrate by going to church, exchanging gifts with their families and gathering for a large meal. Visits to friends' and relatives' houses follow during the week between Christmas and New Year's.

Various ethnic groups have their own celebrations. Events such as Chinese New Year, the Hindu Diwali festival and the Muslim observance of Hosay can draw participants from the entire community in areas where there is a strong concentration of these peoples.

January 1 New Year's Day
March/April Easter
May 23 Labour Day
August 1 Emancipation Day
August 6 Independence Day
October 21 National Heroes Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

  Did you know?
Most Jamaicans living abroad try to return to their homeland to celebrate Christmas with their families.

  Did you know?
A Christmas treat is sorrel, a dark red drink made form soaking sorrel leaves in hot water and adding sugar, ginger, or lime and rum. The sorrel plant blooms only at Christmas time.