CULTURE: 18 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Grew Up In A Caribbean Household

Some people hoard books, Caribbean people hoard plastic bags. 

Ivy Richardson | BuzzFeed —-  A view from Jamaicans in the U.K. 

  1. Ginger and Lemon Tea Solves Everything. 

I can’t explain it but this beverage really is a cure for all. Sore throat? Ginger and lemon tea. Indigestion? Ginger and lemon tea. Broken ankle? You guessed – ginger and lemon tea. God knows the science behind it but the proof is in the pudding.

  1. No Party Is Ever Complete Without Wray And Nephew Rum. 

What do all Caribbean parties have in common? Good people, good music, good food, and Jamaica’s Wray and Nephew rum. There aren’t many things you can guarantee in this life, by Wray and Nephew making an appearance at a Caribbean get together is certainly one of them. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.           

  1. Leaving an Event With A Week’s Worth Of Food Is The Ultimate Life Goal. 

The only thing better than dining at an event is taking home a lifetime supply of food with you. When Tupperware is nowhere to be found – which is often, let’s be honest – sometimes you have to get creative with your doggy bags. It’s the makeshift tin foil containers for me.

  1. Notting Hill Carnival Is Arguably The Most Important Weekend Of The Year. 

Notting Hill Carnival is like Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s rolled into one. It’s the bank holiday of all bank holidays and we Caribbean people do not take it lightly. Come rain or shine, the vibe is immaculate.

  1. Everyone Is Late For Absolutely Everything. 

Caribbean time is a whole world unto itself. You could arrive late to your own party and no one would even bat an eyelid. Punctuality just isn’t our strong suit. So if we say we’re five minutes away and you believe us, that’s on you, sis.

  1. It’s Highly Unlikely You’ll Have Met All Of Your Extended Family. 

Every family gathering is an opportunity to meet more family members you didn’t know existed. There’s always another auntie, uncle, or long-lost cousin around to keep you on your toes. How many cousins do we have? THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST. 

  1. As Much As We Love To Turn Up, Halloween Is Not Something To Celebrate In Most Caribbean Homes. 

In a lot of religious Caribbean homes, anything related to ghosts, demons, and spirits is a big no-no and unfortunately, Halloween isn’t an exception. So dressing up as your favourite villain, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating was most likely not how you spent October 31st back in the day.

  1. Gossip Spreads Like Wildfire. 

Everyone knows everything about everyone at all times – it’s a blessing and a curse. You may think you’re being discreet and keeping your private life to yourself, but you would be so wrong. There are truly no secrets in Caribbean families.

  1. Finding Biscuits Inside A Biscuit Tin Is A Rarity. 

The odds of finding biscuits inside a biscuit tin are slim to none in Caribbean homes. I think it’s safe to say that’s where my trust issues stem from. Looking for a sweet treat and instead discovering sewing equipment or hair accessories is a pain quite like no other. And don’t even get me started on ice cream tubs…

  1. Stealing Meat Out Of The Dutch Pot Is An Extreme Sport. 

It takes a bit of skill, some luck, and a whole lot of bravery to successfully steal meat from the Dutch pot. Even if you somehow manage to sneak a few pieces out, putting the lid back on without making a racket is mission impossible. It’s a daily struggle.

  1. There’s Always A Barrel Being Sent Overseas. 

You’d blink and it would be time to send yet another barrel back home full of clothes, shoes, and anything else in decent condition. It’s all fun and games until your parents raid your wardrobe and grab anything and everything you haven’t worn recently. Missing a top? It’s probably in the barrel. Don’t remember putting it in there? Well, your parents probably do…

  1. Plastic Furniture Covers Are The Root Of All Evil. 

Some of you never had to sit on plastic-covered sofas and it shows. They may be protective but let’s face it, they’re uncomfortable, unpleasant to look at, and noisy.

  1. Chores Are Not To Be Taken Lightly. 

Forget lie-ins, Saturday mornings were reserved for scrubbing the entire house from top to bottom (even if it was already spotless). The best part was being aggressively woken up at 7am by music on full blast. There’s nothing quite like Soca to get you in the mood for a deep clean.

  1. Wearing ‘Outside Clothes’ In The House May As Well Be Illegal. 

Caribbean parents don’t joke when it comes to keeping their homes clean and that affects what can and can’t be worn inside the house. You’d be lucky if you even get ten feet through the front door without being reminded to change into your house clothes.

  1. Your Parents Reminding You Of Their Death-Defying Journey To School Whenever You’d Complain About Anything. 

If you ever moan about something trivial, you just know your parents are going to bring up that story to humble you. You know, the one where they explain how they had to travel far and wide, climb mountains, journey through lakes, and fight real-life animals just to get to school back home – not that we could ever forget.

  1. While Talking Back Is Far More Trouble Than It’s Worth… 

Caribbean parents are notorious for not sparing the rod. They are CEOs of tough love. So, if you ever talk back or give them any kind of attitude, good luck to you.

  1. But They May Have Offered To Hold Onto Your Money To ‘Keep It Safe’. 

We’ve all been there. You’re on cloud nine after receiving money in a birthday card or from a relative and then you give it to your parents for ‘safekeeping’. Only to never see it again. And when you pluck up the courage to ask for it back, all hell breaks loose.

  1. And Finally, Throwing Away Plastic Bags Is Basically A Crime. 

You know you’re inside a Caribbean household when you find a whole drawer or cupboard dedicated to carrier bags. Some people hoard books, Caribbean people hoard plastic bags…

What was your favourite thing about growing up in a Caribbean household?

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/14/2021 at 12:47 am

    “Stealing Meat Out Of The Dutch Pot Is An Extreme Sport.”

    In Guyana, “Dutch Pot” is “Pepperpot”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/14/2021 at 6:19 am

    Philip in the UK wrote:

    Spot on, Saturdays l was roused bright and early to pound fou fou in what looked like a 200 year old wooden mortar and pestle.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/14/2021 at 6:30 am

    Susan Lam in the USA wrote:

    Thanks, I’ll check it out!!

    BUT, I am going to be as presumptuous as the author and slot Susan in here:

    6. It’s Highly Unlikely You’ll Have Met All Of Your Extended Family.

    Every family gathering is an opportunity to meet more family members you didn’t know existed. There’s always another auntie, uncle, or long-lost cousin around to keep you on your toes. How many cousins do we have? THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/14/2021 at 8:38 am

    Pauline in Toronto wrote:

    Thanks Clyde…Lots of memories….so interesting…

    I have forwarded to the family and friends….

    Keep safe and have a great day…/P

  • pat dial  On 04/14/2021 at 6:42 pm

    A lovely nostalgic article. To Guyanese and others, the reigning rum is El Dorado Gold which comes in 25-, 15- and 12-year aged. This rum has been winning the main international prizes for quality and is found at the bars at the world’s main airports and top restaurants. 50 years or so ago when I lived in Jamaica Appleton and Wray and Nephew were the rums. It is good to hear from Jamaica, an island which has brought so much fame, culutre and respectability to Caribbean people..

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/20/2021 at 5:41 pm

    This brought back so many memories. There are a few other things I remember.

    These include:

    1. Getting a good licking if you don’t address seniors as Mr. or Mrs.

    2. Hitching a ride on the back of a bus while riding your bicycle.

    3. Finding the sweetest canes planted in the middle of a cane field.

    4. Polishing mahogany furniture until you can almost see your face in it.

    5. Putting “snow” around your house on Christmas Eve.

    6. Hanging new curtains in your house very early on Christmas-eve morning.

    And do you remember the guns we had could only shoot water or caps or olive seeds?

    Many of us never saw a real gun or a real bullet when we were growing up, only when we were old enough to go to the movies.

    Those were the days my friend.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/20/2021 at 5:44 pm

    I received the foregoing from a Barbados-born, Buddy ….

    In Guyana, “olive seeds” would be “buck beads”

    Ah, Yes – I remember it well!!

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