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What Are Some Caribbean Nine Nights Traditions?

What Are Some Caribbean Nine Nights Traditions?

Postby Tedrick » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:33 pm

Nine-Nights also know as "Dead Yard" is a funerary tradition practiced in the Caribbean (primarily Jamaica, Guyana, and the Dominican Republic). It is an extended wake that lasts for several days, with roots in African tradition. During this time, friends and family come together to the home of the deceased. They share their condolences and memories while singing hymns and eating food together. In the old days, the nights were calm and reserved for the most part - but that tradition has changed with the times. Today, these gatherings resemble parties much more than they resemble wakes (though this is not true for all "nine-nights").

Nine-Nights are no longer a time to mourn but a time to celebrate since the loved one is no longer suffering in life. When friends come they do not come with just condolences they come with food, drink and music; this is after all a celebration. True to its name this celebration lasts nine nights and days with the ninth and final night being the night before the church service (Though some modern Islanders only celebrate for seven days and seven nights). On the ninth night the family prepares the food for all who come. As tradition has is on the ninth night it is believed that the spirit of the deceased passes through the party gathering food and saying goodbye before continuing on to its resting place. Out of all the nights this night is the most revered since it is the end of the celebration. Stories about the deceased and the fondest memories are shared, along with prayers. Games, such as Dominos, are played as well as singing hymns, which is also done on the other nights as well.

On the ninth night a table is set up under a tent with food for the loved one, though no one is allowed to eat from it before midnight because it is believed that this is the time that the spirit passes through. Along with the food are drinks, most often Jamaican rum with no less than 100 proof. The types of food on the table can vary from one celebration to the next, but typically fried fish and bammy are the main foods on the table. This time is very important to the family because it gives them time to celebrate the life of their loved one and to be able to say their goodbyes.

Traditionally on the ninth night of the deceased's death their bed and mattress are turned up against the wall, in order to encourage the spirit (Jamaican patois "duppy") to leave the house and enter the grave. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf_BG5eK-...

One of the strongest Jamaican traditions concerning death, is that of a wake, also called Nine Night or Set Up. It was believed by African slaves that a person's spirit took nine days to travel home to Africa, and this is probably where the tradition started.


Family and friends gather at the dead person's home to comfort the bereaved, and to give the spirit a good send off from this world. This may be done on one or many nights, with the ninth night or the night immediately preceding the funeral being of the most importance. It was an African belief that the person's duppy would live on and become a nuisance to the survivors if not treated with respect before burial.


Although the concept is African derived, the proceedings at a wake have a strong European Christian influence. Special hymns (sankeys) are sung emphasising the soul's journey to heaven. The singing is done in a style known as 'tracking', where someone will call out one line of the sankey at a time, and then the rest of the gathering will sing the line together.
http://www.real-jamaica-vacations.com/ja...
Tedrick
 
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