Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Islands of the Bahamas...

The Bahamas are an archipelago of about 700 islands and 2,400 uninhabited islets and cays lying 50 mi off the east coast of Florida. Only about 30 of the islands are inhabited; the most important is New Providence (80 sq mi; 207 sq km), on which the capital, Nassau, is situated. Other islands include Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island, and San Salvador (or Watling's Island).

Blessed with the perfect location—less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida; the perfect climate—averaging a little over 75 degrees; and the perfect environment—crystal clear turquoise blue waters and pearly white sandy beaches, the Islands of the Bahamas is the perfect travel destination for your wedding, siesta, party, honeymoon, or family vacation. Enjoy luxurious all-inclusive Bahamian resorts, Bahama fun filled tours and a variety of Bahamas vacation activities in the Caribbean's most popular sub-tropical location.

The Islands of the Bahamas is unique with their individual character and charm--and there is some truth to this.

Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, located on New Providence Island offers a variety of experiences from non-stop excitement to peaceful relaxation. Nassau is the center of industry, commerce and communications and presents a special charm which captures the elegance of the old world while at the same time incorporating up-to-the-minute modern features. Here one will find well-preserved colonial buildings, exciting attractions, duty free shopping, one of the largest straw markets in the Caribbean, thrilling land and sea sports, pristine beaches, delightful cuisine and unique cultural activities.

New Providence is home to Nassau--the nation's capital is the center of industry and commerce in the Bahamas and serves an interesting blend of old world colonial architecture, vast straw markets, and an abundance of people combined with sophisticated new world luxury reminiscent of the 007 movies.

Linked to Nassau by bridge is the famed Paradise Island--home to luxurious beaches, a world class golf course, the most plush hotels in the Caribbean, gigantic casinos and of course world class entertainment.

Approximately 360 financial insti- tutions are licensed to do banking and financial trust representation in The Bahamas. The country is the leading off-shore financial centre in the world.
The Bahamian dollar is the national currency. It is equivalent to, and interchangeable with, the American dollar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Caribbean wedding traditions

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.

The Caribbean wedding traditions are really interesting and exciting due to the fact that many Caribbean islands follow the wedding traditions of the Americans while the others create a peculiar blend of the African and European cultures which is typically Caribbean and could be found nowhere in the world.

The customs actually vary from island to island. But a common custom enables the bride and the groom to dress in their finest clothes. Then the bride and the groom head towards the church either from the bride's place or from the groom's place. Then the church bells ring in order to announce the wedding to the island. Usually the villagers line the street to view the bride and the groom walking to the church and it is compulsory for every onlooker to comment on the bride and the groom's clothes.

The guests are usually invited by the word of mouth, only in some exceptional honored cases, invitations are hand written. The bride's father or both the parents escort her to the aisle with her face covered by a veil. At the end of the ceremony, the groom lifts the veil and kisses his new bride, which is an amalgamation of catholic and African traditions.

The food served to the guests include typical food of the island like curried goat, spicy chicken jerky and fried plantains. The Wedding cake is prepared in the traditional manner. It is the traditional black cake, the recipe of which has passed down from generation to generation. The cake is made of flour, brown sugar, fresh eggs, butter and cherries, raisins, prunes, currants are added to it. The cake is served with Hard Rum Sauce. The dried fruits added to the cake are soaked in rum in a crock pot for a period of two weeks to one year. The guests are also treated with sweets.After the wedding ceremony the newly wed couple leave for honeymoon or spend a week at home in absolute privacy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Caribbean Carnival

Caribbean Carnival is the term used for a number of events that take place in many of the Caribbean islands annually. Carnival is a colorful and exciting event celebrated throughout the Caribbean region. Each island has its unique method of celebrating Carnival, and the dates of carnival vary throughout the islands.

The Caribbean's Carnivals all have several common themes based on folklore, culture, and religion, not on amusement rides. Carnival tradition is based on a number of disciplines including: "Playing Mas"/Masquerade; Calypso Music and crowning a Calypso King or Monarch; Panorama (Steel Band Competition); Jouvert morning; and a number of other traditions.

In many parts of the world, where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered into slave trade, carnival took root. Today Carnival celebrations are found throughout the Caribbean. Traditions of the cultures have come together and especially African dance and music traditions transformed the early European carnival traditions in the Americas. Important to the Caribbean festival arts are the ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks. These traditions were believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems and chill out angry spirits. Caribbean carnival traditions also borrow from the African culture the tradition of creating pieces of sculpture, masks and costumes. For the Caribbean people carnival became an important way to express their rich cultural traditions. It takes many months of coming up with a theme or overall concept and developing costumes for the dancers. Lots of creativity, energy and patience is put into work such as welding, painting, sewing, gluing, applying feathers, sequins and glitter. Carnival groups, entertained by music orchestras, parade and dance wearing costumes depicting a common theme.

Carnival Celebrations

When Carnival first began it was celebrated from December 26 until Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Nowadays Carnival festivities and activities are being held year-round in the Caribbean. The dates on which Carnival celebrations such as; music competitions, festivals, concerts, street 'jump-up's', beauty pageants, balls, parades etc. take place may vary from country to country, from island to island.

For days, sometimes weeks, the people of the Caribbean express themselves socially and artistically and sheer joy with visitors from all over the world. Everyone, including the spectators, is part of the celebrations.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food plays a central role in family life and traditions in the islands. Cooks spend days preparing menu offerings for holidays, festivals, and special family gatherings. The cuisine of the Caribbean is like a cultural patchwork quilt. Each “patch” or dish represents the plentiful bounty of the islands' lush tropical vegetation, combined with the one or more diverse groups of people that have lived there, including the original Carib and Arawak Indians, followed by the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch settlers, as well as Africans, who have had a profound influence on the food and cultural traditions of the islands. Later followed Indian and Chinese settlers, and travelers from the United States.

Caribbean recipes combine African, Amerindian, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking. These traditions are a reflection of the early settlers of the region. Rice is the staple of a Caribbean meal and isn't complete without a generous helping. It is eaten with a variety of sauces and beans. You'll find the rice on each island may be a little different. Some season their rice, or add peas and other touches - like coconut. Sometimes the rice is yellow, but other times it is part of a dish.

Jamaican , Haitian, Guadeloupean, and other French Caribbean islands enjoy goat meat. Goat water stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a tomato-based stew, made with goat meat, breadfruit, green pawpaw (papaya), and dumplings (also known as "droppers").

Another Caribbean recipe favorite is called "Cook-up", or Pelau. This dish combines meats like chicken, beef, pig tail, saltfish, and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas.

Seafood is one of the most common Caribbean recipe delicacies in the islands due in part to their geographic location. Each island will likely have its own specialty. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. Barbados is known for its "flying fish," while Trinidad and Tobago is known for its cascadura fish and crab.