Jamaica Magazine

Labor Day in Jamaica – An American Retiree in Jamaica

Labor Day in Jamaica is May 23rd. This year it was celebrated on Monday, the 24th. Labor Day in the states is the first Monday of September. This is the day that signals the end of summer. Boats are taken out of the water, pools are closed and the last barbecue of the year is celebrated with vast amounts of food and drink. It also signals the beginning of school just days away. The hardest work done is turning over hamburgers and chicken on the grill. Not so in Jamaica! Thanks to our Prime Minister, the Honorable P.J. Patterson, he put labor back into Labor Day. He thought it would be a good idea if the citizens gave back to the country on this one day of the year.

As a result, community and civic organizations island wide come up with their own activities to better Jamaica. In the local paper, two such organizations repainted pedestrian crosswalks, walls and government institutions.

The community I live in did their part to beautify our entrance from the main road as well as clearing a drainage ditch of brush, stones and litter that had accumulated over time. This project was voted on at our last community meeting.

We started gathering early in the morning bringing our own tools. During the course of the morning, more and more people showed up. There were several hard working people who had never been to any of our community meetings. Some worked with machetes, shovels, and picks, while others used rakes, brooms and wheelbarrows.

Men, women and children worked side by side. While we were all working hard under the hot tropical sun others were preparing a meal for all to enjoy. The beverage of the morning was thirst quenching water which at lunch turned to fruit punch, Red Stripe beer and Jamaican brandy. The lunch consisted of white rice with spicy Jamaican style corned beef and cabbage.

By early afternoon, our project was completed and then some. In addition to the bushing and clearing of the storm gully, potholes were filled along the roadway. Even our water pumping station was given a sprucing up.

This was one of the hardest working days I can ever remember. It was so gratifying to see so many of our neighbors uniting for a common cause. We all worked hard but still had time to socialize with each other and those who we haven’t had the opportunity to see in recent times.

I have seen and participated in many civic endeavors over the years in the states but none as rewarding as this one. This is a true testament to the people of Jamaica. The outside world hears only the negative stories but I hope I have been able to show you the real Jamaican people that tourists seldom see. This is why I moved to Jamaica.

About the author

John Casey