…Take ah jump, take ah jump up now
start to wave, start to wave, start to wave up now
start to wine, start to wine, start to wine up now
(It’s Carnival, Destra and Machel Montana – Soca Artists from Trinidad and Tobago)
So, what is carnival? As defined from http://www.gotrinidadandtobago.com/trinidad/carnival.php:
In 1783 the French brought their culture, customs and Carnival, in the form of elaborate masquerade balls, to Trinidad along with African slaves. The period stretching between Christmas and the start of Lent was a time for feasting, fancy dress balls and celebration for both the French and British. Banned from the festivities, slaves in the barrack yards would hold their own celebrations mimicking their masters’ behaviour while incorporating rituals and folklore. Once slavery was abolished in 1838, the freed Africans took their Carnival to the streets and, as each new immigrant population entered Trinidad, a new flavour was added to the festivities. Today, our diverse culture has influenced the music, food and traditions of Carnival.
There’s a different carnival in just about every West Indian country to celebrate their individual emancipation date from England. There are also carnivals in the US and one in Canada to replicate the ones abroad. I’ve been to carnival in Antigua (where my parents are from) , and in the US, I’ve been to the DC and New York carnivals. Trinidad, the origin of carnival, is supposed to have the best/wildest carnival. And as far as the US, well NY and Miami top the charts of best carnival. Toronto Canada’s “Caribana” is supposed to be the ultimate carnival, Canadian-style.
I highly recommend you check out a carnival in your lifetime if you have not done so already. It’s one big party in the streets with scantily clad people, bright beautiful costumes, and dancing, dancing, and more dancing. If you are going to march along with the bands be prepared to get dirty.
J’ouvert (pronounced jooh-vay) is the carnival pre-party. It occurs early in the AM and this is where you get down and dirty (literally, mud, paint, oil, and powder is thrown about in the crowds). Aside from the j’ouvert and actual carnival, there are parties and other events that going during carnival time.
Dates of some carnivals:
Canada (http://www.caribanatoronto.com/) – July 14, 2009 – August 3, 2009
Antigua (http://www.antiguacarnival.com/) – July 25, 2009 – August 4, 2009
Barbados (http://www.barbados.org/cropclnd.htm) – August 1, 2009 – August 15, 2009
Trinidad (http://www.gotrinidadandtobago.com) – February 23, 2009 – February 24, 2009
Washington, DC (http://www.dccaribbeancarnival.org/default2.html) – June 27, 2009 – June 28, 2009
Brooklyn, New York (http://www.wiadca.com/) – every Labor Day Weekend, the site has old info
Miami, FL (http://miamicarnival.net/home/) – October 11, 2009
Any questions about carnival…care to share your carnival experience…plan on going to one….