By Faye-Chantelle Mondesir
When October comes around, it’s time to head to beautiful SAINT LUCIA for one of the most culturally-rich festivals in the world! The highly anticipated annual Jounen Kwéyòl (Creole Day) festival is routinely celebrated on the stunning, topographical Caribbean island on the last Sunday of the month across island. Saint Lucia sits nestled with poise between Martinique and St. Vincent, arrayed with its famous twin Pitons and dynamic walk-in volcanic attraction among others. Annually hosted from 1984, on this festive day, the various towns and communities island wide chosen to host the festival, reenact traditional and cultural norms inherited from ancestors.
Some of the highlights of this vibrant festival include delectable local dishes; meals such as green fig and salt fish (the national dish of Saint Lucia), plantains, a range of breadfruit dishes, several varieties of fish, manicou (opossum), souse (pork soup flavoured with cucumber), fried floats/ bakes, accra (fried dough containing salt fish infused with a range of local seasonings) and paime (conkies). The favoured fish, chicken or beef bouillon stewed with dasheen, yams, plantains, banana and of course the highly popular dumpling, local drinks such as cocoa tea and an inviting, refreshing range of fresh, local fruit juices are all just a few of the special Creole day delicacies greatly anticipated during the weekend of cultural feasting and merry-making.
A bit more about the colourful festival for the unfamiliar; Aside from the mouth-watering cuisinical highlights, the event is vivaciously infused with rhythmical ‘kweyol’ music, a lot of which have been handed down from ancient generations. The Tambos drum is the most prominent instrument used besides vocals, beaten and played throughout the celebrations as natives communicate in their mother creole language and enjoy the activities. Saint Lucia is multi-lingual, but ‘patois,’ as ‘Creole’ is affectionately referred to on-island, is the main form of verbal expression and communication among older residents and within rural communities.
The occasion is observed and honoured by patrons both sporting and representing with the island’s National wear, such as the Wob Dwiete, complemented with matching head gear and traditionally accessorised. This is usually the choice fashion statement from the Friday through to the Sunday among all age groups, yet another highlight of the celebrations.
As a modern alternative, the younger, more conventional creole festival party-goers model clothing of all styles and colours, made from the traditional creole and plaid fabric called Madras. This modern fashion statement is both a substitute and contrast to the extreme layers of skirts and dresses, allowing them to fully represent their local heritage with their own generational touch. Here’s wishing all Saint Lucians at home and abroad A SPECTACULAR CREOLE DAY!
CAN’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE? HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO LEARN THE CREOLE LANGUAGE!