Labor Day in Jamaica
Jamaican Labor Day is a holiday observed annually on May 23rd, commemorating the 1938 labor rebellion that led to Jamaican independence. This holiday is usually celebrated on the day it falls on if it is a weekday, but if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then it is observed on the following Monday.
On this holiday, people celebrate in a variety of ways, mainly through food, dance, and music. Because it is a public holiday, government offices are closed, as are many businesses. Other businesses stay in operation for tourists and for people celebrating the day.
The History of Labor Day in Jamaica
When Jamaica was part of the British Empire, it celebrated a public holiday on May 24th in observation of Queen Victoria’s birthday. This holiday was Empire Day, and during the 1950s, it would be renamed Commonwealth Day.
In the early 1960s, Jamaica gained its independence from Great Britain. It was then that Jamaican Chief Minister Norman Washington Manley suggested that Commonwealth Day be replaced with the holiday Labor Day.
Labor Day commemorates the 1938 labor rebellion led by Alexander Bustamante. He became prominent during the rebellion and would eventually become Jamaica’s first Prime Minister.
Interesting Facts About Jamaica
Below are a couple of interesting facts that we’ve learned about Jamaica while researching Jamaican Labor Day.
- From the 16th through the mid-17th centuries, Jamaica was ruled by the Spanish.
- Eight-time Olympic medalist Usain Bolt is from Jamaica.
- Tourism makes up a large portion of Jamaica’s economy.
Observing Labor Day in Jamaica
A practice that has been common since 1972 is for Jamaicans to use this day to get involved in community projects. It is also a day when there are parades, speeches, and other events. And as we mentioned in our introductory statement, this holiday is celebrated with food, family, music, and dancing.