Halloween has never been a traditional holiday in Jamaica and you will nary see throngs of trick-and-treaters in search of goodies and goblins roaming the streets of Ocho Rios and other popular tourist destinations on October 31. That’s all the more reason you might want to book a trip to the Land of Wood and Water this October, especially if you like real ghost stories to go with your Smarties and Candy Corn.
Despite the fact that Mexico has in recent years adopted much of the American Halloween hijinks to go along with its traditional Day of the Dead celebrations, and that many other Caribbean nations do celebrate along with American tourists, the holiday has never taken root in Jamaica.
But why? After all, as a country largely dependent on tourism for its economy and with so many international travelers always looking for another reason to visit and party, one would think that Halloween would be a natural fit. The island also has a strong voodoo and black magic tradition that seems to fit in well with the nature of the holiday.
The answer may be rooted in something dark and sinister and too close to home for native Jamaicans. The island’s history is well known and part of its past and with it comes a story of a real and morbid fascination with the afterlife and evil spirits. Ghosts and evil spirits still exist deep in the conscious of its population and awakening them is not looked upon too kindly. It does make for some good ghost tours, however.
Murderous Witches Take Revenge
Murderous Witches Take Revenge
Take for example the wildly popular Rose Hall Estate and White Witch Tour. By day, the mansion on Jamaica’s northern coast stands as a sterling example of the island’s rich architecture and natural beauty. But at night, one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist destinations becomes a ghoulish reminder of darker times.
According to legend, the spirit of Annie Palmer, a Haitian born voodoo practitioner, haunts the grounds as the White Witch. She murdered her first husband, John Palmer, and two subsequent ones. She also murdered a multitude of slaves.
Although it is said that her reign of terror eventually ended by the same slaves she mistreated, she is said to still haunt the grounds and photos of a ghostly apparition believed to be Annie adorn the entrance hall.
Then there is the story of the old witch who lived on the banks of the River Matiberon before being captured by Spanish explorers. She was forced to direct them to the location of hidden treasure. Instead, she led them into a cave disappearing and leaving them to parish on what would come to be known as the Marth Brae River.
Duppy Comes Calling
On the interior of the island, another kind of ghost has the attention of the locals – the duppy. Although this legend is popular on numerous Caribbean islands, the fascination in Jamaica remains palpable to this day. The duppy is a malevolent spirit that takes various forms, including a “Rolling Calf,” “Three-footed horse,” and a shapeshifting witch called “Old Higue.”
Discussing duppy with local can be tricky as they will often avoid saying the word or laugh it off hoping to change the subject. The extent to which it is feared is apparent in the documentary “Haunted Jamaica,” which you can see on YouTube.
Resort to Fun
Once you’ve explored Jamaica’s real ghost stories you might be in the mood for some lighter fare. Luckily, the island’s fantastic resorts do hold Halloween parties for guests. At Moon Palace Jamaica, the resort holds a number of holiday-themed events for you to enjoy.