Analysis of Caribbean Festivals

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The Caribbean is a region known not only for its sun, sand and sea, but its festivals. Also known as ‘Caribbean Carnival’, these festivals have spread to the diaspora. Oxford Dictionaries define carnival as, “a period of public revelry at a regular time each year, typically during the week before Lent in Roman Catholic countries, involving processions, music, dancing, and the use of masquerade.” The term and concept of ‘carnival’ originated in Italy, however, with the influence of African culture, carnivals in the Caribbean took on its own form. It can be understood that the modern carnival was born out of colonialism and eventually freedom. According to Julia Hewitt: "In the Caribbean, carnival as a mode of performing resistance, carries the memory of repression and sacrifice, but also of hope, in a sense of becoming other." It is believed that the first Caribbean festival started on the island of Trinidad and Tobago during the 18th century. From Trinidad and Tobago, the festival spread to other islands. Then infused with local cultures of that country to form its own unique ‘carnival’. In this essay, the evolution of three festivals in the Caribbean and its diaspora will be examined. These three festivals are Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, New York’s Labor Day Carnival and London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Thus showing the growth and visibility of not only ‘carnival’ but Caribbean culture.

Many festivals in the Caribbean reflect the region’s strong history. As such, it holds ties to plantation life or religious beliefs. It started as a means to celebrate and enjoy life; to preserve cultural traditions, and reflect on cultural diversity. In the diaspora, it is a way to keep the connection between the Caribbean and the people abr...

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...trimental to their interests and provoked young blacks to pelt paraders with stones, cans and bottles. Such disruptions contributed to the cancellation of the Harlem festival.” Thus, showing that even abroad the Carnival wasn’t without its political adversaries. In the 1960s, Carlos Lezema who headed the association was granted permission to hold the festival in Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. His daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark, now overlooks the festival as president.

Works Cited

"carnival: definition of carnival in Oxford dictionary ..." Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2014 .

Richard Scehner

Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival

Julia Hewitt
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