How did a church festival get the same name as an island nation in the Caribbean?.
The name itself is old and mysterious. Indigenous people living in the Jamaican islands already had a name for their home when Christopher Columbus first arrived. They called it Xaymaca. The word has been in use for a long time. That word has other meanings in Spanish. For one, jamaica is the name of the hibiscus flower. And the name of an herbal tea made from dried hibiscus. “Agua de jamaica” is the name for hibiscus tea in Spanish.
For unkown reasons a jamaica (hah-MY-kah) has come to be known as a church fundraising event in the form of a fair or a street festival. Jamaicas are popular in Latin countries and in various parts of the US, particularly those with a Southwestern flavor. In some churches the event is linked to a celebration of Mexican Independence Day in the fall or Cinco de Mayo in the spring. Rosalinda Rodriguez observes that Jamaica is the word used for a kermes (festival) or fundraising sale for a charity: that word is used to say that it is like a fresh, voluntary activity, which can be as rewarding as giving a drink of water from that same plant ,since the flower of Jamaica has a beautiful red heart color and is used for several things: water, tea, quesadillas, jams.
At St. John’s the Jamaica (Hah-MY-kah) festival has been a BIG fundraising event each fall (except during COVID). In years past, it was named Fall Festival or Fiesta, and is now called the Jamaica Festival. Everybody in the church pitches in and helps prepare, set up, run the various events, and clean up afterward. Food, drink, fun, and sweets are sold at modest prices. There is a Cake Walk. Watching the children have fun is part of the entertainment for adults.
What to do:
When is the 2022 Jamaica Festival?
Saturday, October 15th from 10 am – 5 pm.
* Photo of Hibiscus flower, tea, and dried fruit from Wikipedia
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