Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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.
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.