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Today, these masquerades have evolved into the socio-cultural or socio-political heritage of the Caribbean islands. They serve as a way to find avenues for artistic expression, to provide release for pent-up tensions and an alternative way to make money.

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"Culture, the linchpin that bonds us as a people, is vital to our quality of life." P.J Patterson INTRODUCTION In Africa, before slavery, peoples had a tradition of masquerading for a number of purposes - for the worship and appeasal of deities, the initiation of a boy into manhood, celebrations of life (whether it was a birth or death), the crowning of a new chief and for social recreation. These masquerades featured costumes designed for the occasion, wearing of masks, singing and dancing. During and after slavery, the slaves and ex-slaves kept this tradition alive in religions such as Shango and Voodoo and as a form of subtle protest. Today, these masquerades have evolved into the socio-cultural or socio-political heritage of the Caribbean islands. They serve as a way to find avenues for artistic expression, to provide release for pent-up tensions and an alternative way to make money. ORIGINS OF THE FESTIVALS During the summer, the streets are filled with the sights, sounds, scents and tastes of Crop Over in Barbados, Independence Festival in Jamaica, Vincy Mas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Kaya Grandi in Bonaire, Carnival in Antigua, Barbuda, Grenada and Trinidad and Carriacou Regatta. > Carnival Historically, Carnival is a pre-Lenten festival associated with the practice of abstaining from meat during Lent ("carne vale" meaning farewell to the flesh). ...read more.


In such cases, the gangs from the neighbouring estates proceeded to the estate which was ablaze, to assist in grinding the burnt canes before they became sour. The grinding went on until the canes were manufactured into sugar. Cannes brulee has adopted many "meanings" in modern times, the most popular being the celebration at the completion of the concentrated manual harvesting. > Crop Over Crop Over is one of Barbados' most colourful festivals whose origins can be traced back to the 1780s when Barbados was one of the world's largest sugar producers. As with most Caribbean festivals this festival is a merger of European and West African culture. The early Crop Over festivals were not as centralized as they are today but were celebrated on the different plantations, where activities were concentrated on the mill yard (the first site involved in the crop harvesting). At the beginning of the celebrations the very last load of canes to be harvested was brought into the mill yard as the basis of a procession of animal drawn carts. These carts were adorned with branches and flowers and the canes were tied with brightly coloured cloth. The last cart of the procession carried "Mr. Harding", an image made of cane trash stuffed into an old pair of trousers and coat, with a top hat on its head. ...read more.


The band designers create these costumes out of wire, feathers, and anything that catches the eye and the imagination. The result is an image of great imagination and beauty and sometimes it is hard to believe that a woman or man stands at the core of the piece. > Unity of the People During the festivals the atmosphere is charged with energy. It is during these festivities that people irrespective of race, religion, nationality, class, age or sex come together and revel in the colours, culture, heritage and music of the season. This unity was not always present within the festivals. For example when Crop Over was first started it was a celebration for the slaves. The plantocracy only provided the slaves with the day off and the food and drink to be used. CONCLUSION Presently, the people of the Caribbean are of African, East Indian, Carib, European, Chinese and Middle Eastern origin. They practice many different religions from Voodoo to Christianity to Hinduism. All of the different festivals whether they are the ones mentioned above or otherwise, have drawn on the evolution of Old World customs, the union of different cultures, costumes and music to take on the sweetness and spice of many cultures. This authentic "mix and match" makes them what they are today...symbols of national and regional pride, strength and cultural unity. ?? ?? ?? ?? ID number: 2001615597 Page 1 ...read more.

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