# 7-You know it’s Christmas in Jamaica if….you see people clearing barrels


You know its Christmas in Jamaica by the many barrels at the ports of entry on the island. Even the Prime Minister recognizes this as on Sunday in his address to the nation a part of the stimulus package includes duty free entry on barrels with personal items that are shipped and cleared by December 31st, 2008.

We Jamaicans like to boast that we are in every corner of the world and although one could argue this point, there is no shortage from the thousands who pack barrels for months planning on send barrels stocked with fargin tings back to relatives back home.

“Yu get barrel”

During the holidays thousands of barrels arrive at the ports in the infamous metal top cardboard barrel. Apart from the obvious consignment documentation that accompany international shipping , Jamaicans still boldly scribble in bright black marker the name of the sender and the name of the receiver full name and address. This might be to ensure that their barrel will not get “mix up” or lost in the many thousands being sent to Jamaica.

It is not unusual to see scores of Jamaicans during Christmas at the ports/ wharf with truck to hire and papers ready to “clear” the barrel. Sometimes there is not much geniality or trust between the recipient and the customs department as many Jamaicans often complain that the cost to “clear” their barrel is too high. Some will go as far as to verify with relatives abroad the exact amount of soaps, t-shirts, jeans or what not that was packed in their barrel.

“Yu cya gimme sumten outa de barrel’

The barrel is so much of Jamaican culture at Christmas now that Dr. Claudette Crawford-Brown, the University of the West Indies coined the for children left behind by parents working mostly in North America “barrel children” or “barrel pickeney”. At Christmas more than any other time these children send their lists to relatives abroad ensuing that they get that shoes, that game they have always wanted.

St. Nicholas has nothing on us.


~ by RB on December 15, 2008.

10 Responses to “# 7-You know it’s Christmas in Jamaica if….you see people clearing barrels”

  1. Dutty Bwoy, a strictly barrel and Western Union/remittance a dweet fi Jamdown,eeh? Dat nuh good!!

  2. LOL! Barrel come! But I have to wonder if people still sending/carrying barrels as they used to.

  3. ESTEBAN truth is that it is apart of Jamaican culture even if it is a negative sort of a dependence culture it is true.

    Stunner -I never heard of a carry barrel but I will google it now

  4. Yuh si dis barrel ting: every year is one piece o stress in my family bout dis dyam barrel. Mark you, we don’t need a single thing in it, but all di hexcitement ah come from dem whe’ deh abroad whe’ feel seh dem n’aa seh nuttn if dem no hat up fi dem ead an fi wi pocket bout di barrel. Di amount a phone call an quarreling is too much to take. This year, me declare seh me deh pon strike: nobody nuh fi come aks me fi no money or fi go elp dem fi go clear nuttn. Mi tired a it. So di likkle relief from di taxes is very welcome. Me? All I need is my gungo peas, ham, fruit cake an sorrel an my chris’mus well merry.

  5. Lomgbench — Christmas over all is very stressful. It sounds like you would have to clear a barrel and then share everything equally. I remember a Christmas movie where a family decide to skip Christmas. That might be going too far?

    I don’t know for next year i am giving it serious considerations.

  6. Well said. I recently returned to Jamaica and now awaiting the clearance of some barrels. I’m terrified just thinking about going to the wharf, from the expectant hostility from customs officers to the extortionists (inside and out) just give me the chills. The cost is another episode…

  7. Can anyone tell me how much it costs now to clear a barrel in jamacia at the moment as im sending one down and sending down the money to clear it thanks! I need to know how much to clear it so i can know how much to send down.

  8. anyone know if they r going to do the samething this year. Let me know at firegurl2k1@yahoo.com. thank u

  9. unno chat too rasss much and all now mi nuh seee one rassclaut price weh unno pay fi clear di barrel…weh unno deh pon yah a do….

  10. contact customs, they charge base on price of the goods imported. Better yet look up shipping companies they will have a better idea.

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