Camp Cabarita’s guest are often invited to grave diggings or wake yards (dead yards). These events offer a unique look and how Jamaicans deal with death and also insight into Jamaican culture in general. Most tourists traveling Jamaica won’t get the opportunity for this special experience and celebration. Because it unusual in most countries for someone that is not a friend or family to attend foreign equivalents of these events, we wrote this blog post to briefly describe the process AND more comfortable should you be invited during your stay.
Jamaican rituals surrounding death are as much a celebration of life as they are a way for family, friends and neighbors to mourn a loved one. The events following a death are
1) grave digging
3) wake yard.
The first step in Jamaican custom is typically a grave digging. Community members pitch in to help dig and then cast in concrete the grave which is typically in the family yard. Grave diggings are mid day events often accompanied by music, food and drink. It’s appropriate for anyone within ear shot to attend a grave digging to pay their respects, and then generally eat, drink and be merry. Grave diggings are not the somber events but an opportunity to rejoice and celebrate life. Dress is casual to match the relaxed atmosphere .
Funerals are the most formal events that take place in churches. Bands and live music often accompany the procession to and from the church. Funerals are attended by family, friends and close acquaintances. Following the church service the burial takes place.
The wake yard is the final and most cathartic step in the the process. Wake yards are all out parties again attended by neighbors, friends and friends of friends. Essentially anyone wanting to party is welcome. It’s not unusual for food and drink vendors to show up and wake yards invariable have sounds systems and music until the last person is done dancing. Entrees including all type of curried meat, seafood and more.