Saturday, February 9, 2008

Carnival in Trinidad

In Trinidad, where it’s summer twelve months a year, they say the seasons are defined by the holidays rather than the weather. Since the beginning of January it has been Carnival season. The Carnival celebration in Port of Spain is reputed to be one of the largest in the world, second only to Rio. When you consider that the city proper of Rio de Janeiro has a population of over 6 million and the entire country of Trinidad and Tobago has only 1.3 million, you can get an idea of how all consuming this event is for the country. Everyone seems to get involved at one level or another even if it’s only to complain about degeneration of morals during the season.

Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the pre-Lenten Carnival was brought to Trinidad by the French but here Carnival isn’t a simple Fat Tuesday celebration or even a long weekend Celebration. It’s a full season of party and competition culminating in Carnival Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Parties or Carnival Fetes start up right after the new years parties finish. During the season there are a myriad of shows and events as the steel pan bands, Calypsonians and the rest prepare for competitions. The competitions are staged with the best performers progressing to semi-finals and finals which take place during the 2 weeks prior to the big parades. Carnival Monday and Tuesday are unofficially public holidays and virtually all businesses, offices and schools in the country are closed. About half the population don’t show up for work or school on Wednesday either. The tail end of Carnival week features follow up shows featuring the highlights and winners of all the competitions. In the coming days, I’ll post about the things that I’ve done for Carnival.

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