Woye, Ah Wotless! You Know You’re Caribbean When…

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Woye! Caribbeans are known to be the most prideful yet loyal and hospitable people. They are also known for their carefree lifestyles, good music and food.

The majority of my friends and I are first-generation Caribbeans and love to trade jokes on the antics our relatives provide us. Like when we received “licks” (when you behaved badly or were “out of order”); or how when our parents are upset, they become “vex” and probably tell you  “two big women don’t live in the same house” (sorry, that’s personal).

Family events are called functions and when you are ready to party, you say “Ah goin tuh fete.” While visiting relatives, you must eat their food or at least take home a week’s worth of food or they will feel insulted. Most Caribbean homes either had or still have plastic cover chairs and those beaded curtains that separate the kitchen from the living room. Speaking of the living room, that’s the one room in your home you are not allowed to go in.

So, as you prepare to start to s*ck teeth like us, take off your shoes and get comfortable.  Here are some things that make us Caribbeans “big up” or laugh at ourselves.



 You have Dettol in your house

Sometimes when my cousins and I go to the gym or are on the train during the summertime we smell people who need a good wash with Dettol. Caribbeans usually use this hygiene product for laundry purposes or to disinfect floors, countertops,etc . There are times, though, that body parts that smell oh so sour can be cleansed with Dettol, just remember to dilute it with water.

Drinking tea is the remedy for all illnesses

It does not matter if you are sneezing, have a headache or stabbed yourself, a Caribbean  will always tell you to “drink a likkle (little) tea.” Tea is the solution to any ache or pain you may have.

You don’t twerk; you whine, wuk up or palance

We all know Caribbeans throw the best parties, or as we like to call them fetes . Unlike Americans we don’t twerk; We  can be found “whining up”, “wukking up” or palancing. If you don’t see us doing either three, we are most likely jumping and waving our flags. Yes we know, we’ve got stamina (and a song for everything)!

Instead of saying Math, We say “Maths”

Yes we know, our accents can misconstrue simple words. For example, some of my family members call me Lorraine instead of Lauren and I have one aunt who called moscato, mosquito…Yeah I know. It’s okay, you can laugh.


Your elders will tell you gas is the cause for any pain you feel in your body

As you remember, tea is the solution to any pain you have in your body, but what is the problem? Gas. Whether you have back pains, cramps or are breaking out in hives because of an allergic reaction, gas is the root of your ailment.


As a child you were called “pickney”

Pickney means child. It is said the word originated during slavery from the Portuguese word : “pequenino” and has a negative connotation because it  was often used with the n-word. But in the Caribbean,  parents use it to describe their children when in conversation. Also, the Nigerian dialect Pidgin has its own variation of the word. I believe pickney, along with other patois words, derived  from Caribbeans’ West African heritage.


You rinse your plates or cups out with water before using them

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. With that being said, Caribbeans can be found rinsing out plates, cups and other utensils with water (even though they are already clean) before serving themselves or guests because they want to make sure everyone is clear they are not dirty people. I know, sounds like we have a cleaning complex huh?


You use Hellmans or  butter containers to store homemade seasoning

Before you are ready to make a sandwich or butter some toast, check the container! When the mayo or butter is finished, Caribbeans wash out the containers and store homemade seasoning in them.



Black cake will be served at your wedding

Black (rum) cake is traditionally served at weddings; it is also served during Christmas and Easter time. It’s extremely tasty and, if soaked in rum long enough, you will make you feel like this:

 You have sent barrels to relatives who live “back home”

Sending clothes, hygiene products and other necessities to people in your native country is a common occurence  in any immigrant household. Those items are usually  stored in barrels that are shipped back home.  My mummy used to put a table cloth on a barrel to make it look presentable, especially if it was in our house for more than a week. (Don’t tell her I told you that though! Ha!)


  You played Mas

As some of you know via Rihanna, playing mas looks like a group of people enjoying “whining up” (yeah, I’m testing you)  on each other.  Carnival was brought to the Caribbean and South America through colonialism. It initially began in the European country, Italy. During the season of Lent, Catholics would fast from meat and the day before Lent began, Catholics would hold a costume festival. They named the festival, carnevale which means “to put away the meat.” In a religious context “the meat” symbolically means “the flesh.” The carnivals in Italy became so popular, they spread to other countries such as England, Portugal, Spain and France. Materials of the mas costume stem from African traditions. For example,  feathers were used by Africans on  masks and headdresses to define how humans are able to rise above their problems through a spiritual rebirth.

Now before you leave to “get on bad” (have a good time), drop a comment on other things that make you Caribbean.

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