Thursday, February 14, 2013

Caribbean traditions

Caribbean traditions

It's interesting:
"It seems that just a couple of days before the wedding, he chose a tall, striking blonde behind his fiances back. He voted for Boris Johnson on Thursday…"

The Caribbean's distinctive sights, sounds and colors has made it a popular tourist destination, especially for cruise passengers who visit by the thousands each day. While each island has had its character molded by traditions brought over by West African slaves, and customs imposed on the people by a succession of conquerors from many European countries, some traditions are common throughout the region.

  1. Carnival

    • All the islands hold at least one blowout Carnival celebration, though at three different times of the year: during Easter season- June, July or early August- or December and January, in conjunction with Christmas. These events feature abundant food, drink, music, dance and parades from morning to night with participants in colorful costumes.


    • Caribbean music has an upbeat vibe. In 1937, when colonial authorities refused to allow local musicians on Trinidad to play percussion instruments, they improvised on discarded oil drums and the distinctive sound of the steel drum was born. Now, steel bands play their cheerful music on all the islands.

      Calypso music is a precursor to rap, a satiric, bawdy genre with biting lyrics often improvised to lampoon current events or social customs. Competitions for the Calypso King are held all over the islands.


    • English is spoken throughout the islands, but each island retains the languages spoken by their various occupiers over the centuries, including Dutch, French and Spanish. On French St. Martin, the natives speak a version of Creole.


    • Some businesses still shut down for a siesta between noon and 2 p.m., although the custom is fading on the islands with heavy cruise ship presence because potential customers are in town for just the day.

    Moko Jumbies

    • The moko jumbies are skilled stilt walkers who have performed since the islands were inhabited by West African slaves. Legend has it that the first moko walked across the ocean from Africa on his stilts. A moko is an African god or spirit who watches over the village from a great height. "Jumbie" is the West Indian word for ghost. Today, the moko jumbies do more crowd-pleasing than ghost-busting. They wear long robes and elaborate head dresses while dancing on 6- to 8-foot stilts. They can be found throughout the islands, especially at Carnival and holiday time.


    • Weddings are fairly casual affairs, with the bride and groom dressed in their finest. The bride wears a veil and walks to the groom's house, then they walk together to the church with the whole town turning out to congratulate them. Anyone is welcome to the wedding. Only honored guests receive written invitations. The bride's father or both parents give her away, and the groom has no best man. The traditional wedding cake is called a Black Cake, a sort of rum fruitcake recipe passed down through generations of the bride's family. The reception can go on all night, and the happy couple usually spends a week honeymooning, either right in town or on another island.


Tags: African slaves, Caribbean traditions, each island, moko jumbies, throughout islands