Santa, wha’ di Ras Santa a ride?

If the Christmas story of Santa Claus has meaning, it must fit its context. A Canadian asked how does Father Christmas come to Jamaica. Well, it can’t be on a sleigh with reindeer. I saw a picture of a Jamaica Santa being pulled by a team of what looked like Doberman dogs. That fits an image.

Ride your donkey!

My own thought is that Ras Nick used to come on a dutty ole dankey, smelling like wet, worn socks. Children would know he’d been by the odour left behind. Jamaicans have a long tradition of donkey riding.

Those olden-day things reflect when times were harder, in some material ways. Most people lived in country and few had electric light and running. The Ras would put on red rags that looked more like a Jonkanoo costume.

Traditional Jonkanoo gear is just right for a Jamaican Santa

Jamaican boys know that the box cart is as fast as many vehicles.

Box cart derby, anyone? Or, just jazz it up.

Why wouldn’t Ras Nick opt for that, especially if he starts from atop the Blue Mountains, where he has his island outpost from his Greenland HQ?

We saw this year, during one of the rare heavy rainstorms, how the hand cart was good for carrying more than cane sticks, coconuts, or bags of carrots. The cart was good as a taxi, so Ras Santa could take some of his helves to help him ‘anding out di gifs dem.

Half Way Tree, we’re going?

Ras Nick may want to be like one of the people and use public transport, even though that would dent his image, severely. It’s hard to imagine, but he could wait for a taxi or a Coaster bus. The problem would be where to put all the gifts as the vehicle would already be packed with people and their bags.

Taxi or romping shop? Pull up di riddim, driver!

He’d also be challenged by the choice of music likely to be blaring out inside the vehicle. Christmas Carols haven’t been a hit in dance hall for as long as I can remember. Nick would have problems feeling at ease with the idea of his having to twerk his way through the night with a sack on his back.

Another issue with public transport is the high rate of accidents and the foul language that is common amongst the operators.

If di ‘eat inna di kitchen too ‘ot, tek weh yuself!

The risk that all of the children’s gifts could end up strewn across some roadway would make the helves blanche–not a pretty sight for normally dark-skinned people.

Some novel public transport options exist. Ras Santa could hire a pedal cab from Bobsled Cafe.

No colour issues, here

That may just be the ticket.

But, maybe, with all these local options, our dreadlocks Santa may just stick with convention and fly in on a sleigh, after all.

Sometimes, the tried and tested way is the simplest and best.

Merry Chrismuss to oonu, wan han hall!

Mix up and blend up, Santa. Everything cris’ and even.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

2 thoughts on “Santa, wha’ di Ras Santa a ride?”

  1. Haha! Love the photos. I haven’t seen a donkey in quite a while…and Jonkunnu is even more scarce at Christmas time, sadly… Have a great Christmas holiday Dennis!


    1. I wish I had my own pictures but thanks for the Internet. In The Bahamas, Junkanoo has taken on a whole different life and is the main public street festival over this holiday, with two huge parades of groups, some up to about 1200-1500 people.

      Enjoy the blessings of the long holiday spirit.


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