Jody-Anne Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
Throngs of people everywhere, children clinging to their parents, vendors aplenty and foot space becomes prime real estate. This is a common scene that plays out in towns across Jamaica on December 24 - grand market night.
From town to country, it's an event many look forward to and have treasured memories of. Here are some of our readers' most memorable grand market experiences.
Between the ages of eight to 13 years old, I spent my Christmas holidays in the country (West Prospect, St Catherine), with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother. The closest grand market to us was in Linstead. I think the event, at the time, may have been a bit more glamorous than it is now, because I remember a constant yearn to attend year after year. The journey was long but I was never disappointed. The toys, clothing, music, food, three-card men, carts, lights, laughter, chatter, made it memorable and intriguing every year.
If there's one thing I can point to that I think made Linstead so great, it would be how true the 'market' part of grand market was. There were not as many stores (and plazas) as they have in Half-Way Tree, and because of how small the roads were, we owned it more than the cars. It literally was like a market, it was a pure 'country' vibe. It is a part of my childhood I will never forget.
- Carey Patterson
Christmas Eve grand market is the time where we let out our inner child. My family and I would head to Half-Way Tree. We would compare the lights and decorations between the buildings, evaluating the crowd and coming up with a route to explore the town based on the list of things we needed. The highlight of the night, for me, was always watching my father turn into a big kid when he saw the toys at the street vendors' stalls. He and my little brother would have a field day testing the toy cars and increasing their collection. During the course of the night, we would split up and hide and buy each other presents then link up and pretend like we just went for a walk. By 2 a.m., my father would bring home my mother, and then we would go back out and just walk around aimlessly and return home to wrap gifts.
- Toni-Ann Anderson
Growing up, I remember going to Half-Way Tree, walking the plazas with my older siblings. We would buy things that are on sale. Then my older sisters would take us to a street dance and we would party until 12, shooting fire rockets and clappers when the clock struck midnight.
- Rosemarie Card
I remember my first grand market I went out with friends and a new boyfriend, in a very skimpy dress that I regret wearing. It had rained earlier in the day and I didn't really feel like going anywhere, but I'm really glad I did. The vendors were out in their numbers, music was playing everywhere, and it seemed like everyone was laughing and talking and just happy to be alive. I couldn't stay in a bad mood. I went to the old courthouse in Morant Bay and danced my shoes off, because there was a sound system set up there. But walking around the town and just seeing all the smiling faces, it really made me feel like it was Christmas. My family didn't really celebrate Christmas, but for me that one grand market was just magical, and made me feel like the merriment and joy of the season were worth embracing.
- Jo Lyn
Name changed to protect identity.