Ten Fun Things to Know About Bajans

Ten Fun Things to Know About Bajans

Like all groups of people, Barbadians have a personality and traditions unique to their culture. It’s only 8 a.m. but already I’ve encountered a couple of them. So while I sit here in the Barbados airport awaiting flight to Jamaica with Greg, I’ll share a few with you.

1. Barbadians call themselves Bajans. Interesting that nothing happens quickly in Barbados except for the speaking of individual words. Say the word “Barbadian” (“Bar-bayyd-ian”) quickly and with a Barbadian accent and you get a word that sounds more like “Bar-bayy-junn,” which, when shortened, is “Bajan.” It’s sort of like “Injun” for “Indian” and “Cajun” for “Arcadian.”

2. Bajans are reserved. While the Trinidadian temperament is lively and “always up for a good time” and Jamaicans very confident and outgoing, Bajans are more reserved in polite company. It’s the English in them. Not back-slappers, not phony … very good-hearted. Crop Over and other festivals exempt from this characterization.

Flying fish Barbados

Flying Fish at the Barbados airport

3. Bajans are super-clean. Even if people are of very modest means, their homes are usually immaculate. I’ve never seen anything approaching “slum” in Barbados.

4. They paint their homes at Christmastime. My first December on the island I was staging a home that was going on the market; the home required painting. I couldn’t find an available painter to save my soul, and when I drove around the island I saw why: all painters, professional and non-professional alike, were painting homes, particularly the front porches. Turns out painting and sprucing up one’s home is a Christmastime tradition.

5. Bajans love their flying fish (and so do the tourists).  Sort of like leis in Hawaii, you see flying fish everywhere. Bajans don’t greet visitors to the island by throwing a fish around their necks, of course, but you see graphic representations of our fanciful fish that leap out of the sea on signs, t-shirts, hats, artwork, placemats, oven mitts, and so much more. Plus, of course, we eat lots and lots of flying fish: in cutters (sandwiches), fried up in Oistins on Friday nights, and Creole-style at more formal restaurants.

Uh oh, that’s only 5 fun things to know. I need to catch my flight so I’ll add another 5 another time. Have a great day!



9 Responses to “Ten Fun Things to Know About Bajans”

  1. stephen says:

    11. The younger Bajans prefer football to cricket these days; kept it a secret…

  2. As a Bajan, I am smiling. This was a very good piece.

  3. Tell me it ain’t so! I actually have “Bajans love cricket” in the second half of my “Ten Fun Things to Know About Bajans” …

    Actually, though, when you say football, you mean what a Yank calls soccer, right? Well, that’s not so bad … Still, few sports match the dignity and grace of cricket.

  4. stephen says:

    Yes, the proper football, the original etc; no-one calls it soccer unless they’re from the US or Canada LOL

  5. mpaquet says:

    Always love to read your pieces!But not Arcadians-actually Acadians-we know them from Atlantic provinces in Canada!Same gang of French settlers that became Cajuns in US(short for Acadians)-very astute impressions of Bajan-life!Good for you for being so observant of your new country!Wish it were MINE!

  6. Sandra says:

    I always associate the smell of paint with Christmas. If there’s no paint smell, it’s not really Christmas.

  7. I love it that people who read my little blog are so knowledgeable. I’m pretty sure I’ve misspoken the word “Acadian” all of my life; I really appreciate your correction! I’ll go into the original piece and make the change. Thanks for reading.

    PS … I’m happy you’re a Barbadophile, but right now I bet it’s more pleasant to be in Canada, as September and October are our hottest months and unfortunately our beautiful breeze ceases, which means we really feel the heat.

  8. Awwww, I love this. Isn’t it amazing how powerful such associations are?

  9. Gave myself away yet again as the Yank I am! Thanks, Stephen; I always enjoy your comments.

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