Chinese-Caribbean Culture

Chinese-Caribbean Culture

Between 1853 and 1879, 14,000 Chinese laborers were imported to the British Caribbean as part of a larger system of contract labor bound for the sugar plantations. 

Imported as a contract labor force from China, Chinese settled in three main locations: Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana (now Guyana, initially working on the sugar plantations. It was never a ‘choice’ for indentured labourers to migrate, and actually, many were abducted or hoodwinked into signing labour contracts if they did - sound familiar?

 As was the case with most migration out of China in the nineteenth century, the immigrants were drawn from southern China and were seeking to escape desperate conditions caused by a combination of environmental catastrophes and political unrest (opium wars & widespread hunger caused by floods wiping out food supply).

With a current population of over 75,000 in Jamaica alone, Chinese and Caribbean culture are inextricably linked. So, it seems only right that Totes Caribbean should mention and celebrate the Chinese New Year.

What is Chinese New Year?

In most of the world February is recognised as the month of love. But for the millions of Chinese people all around the world, this year, February 1st 2022 also marks the start of the Lunar New Year.

The Lunar calendar celebrates its first new day when a new moon appears, a theory which is more than 5,000 years old, meaning the dates do not correlate with a traditional Gregorian calendar (the Jan-Dec one we are used to) and instead the dates change depending on the phases of the moon.

New year always falls some time between 21 January and 20 February and each year is represented by an animal. 2022 is The Year of the Tiger. 

 Much like the western zodiac, the Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like the western zodiac, but with the major difference that each house covers a year, rather than a month.

The zodiac signs include the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are characterised as being brave, competitive and confident. But, on the other hand, they can sometimes be unpredictable, irritable, and overindulgent.

Which Chinese zodiac sign are you? 

Your sign is derived from the year you were born in the Chinese lunar calendar. 

The years allocated to each animal are in a very specific order. According to an ancient Chinese folk story, the Jade Emperor had called 13 animals to a meeting and announced that the years on the calendar would be named according to the order they arrived in. This led to ‘The Great Race’. 

The rat travelled on the back of the ox, leaping from its back to nab first place. The pig stopped for a snack and a nap and arrived last; a cat was also in the race but drowned during the competition, leading to there being only 12 animals in the zodiac each of which have unique characteristics. 

  • Rat: 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972
  • Ox: 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

The years above are a rough guide; bear in mind that if you were born in January or February it may be slightly different as the new year moves between January 21 and February 20.

  • Rat: Intelligence, adaptability, quick-wit, charm, artistry, gregariousness.
  • Ox: Loyalty, reliability, thoroughness, strength, reasonability, steadiness, determination.
  • Tiger: Enthusiasm, courage, ambition, leadership, confidence, charisma.
  • Rabbit: Trustworthiness, empathy, modesty, diplomacy, sincerity, sociability.
  • Dragon: Luckiness, flexibility, eccentricity, imagination, artistry, spirituality, charisma.
  • Snake: Philosophical, organised, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive.
  • Horse: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent,  adventurous, strong.
  • Sheep: Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm.
  • Monkey: Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart.
  • Rooster: Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident.
  • Dog: Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart.
  • Pig: Honorable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable.

But which sign are you? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

Keep it Totes Caribbean,



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