Monday, 11 February 2013

It's Carnival Time

It's Carnival here in Trinidad, that time of the year just before Lent when some people get it all out before they give it all up.

Carnival is this

as well as this 

But it can also be this

People come from all over the world to party through the streets for two days. The kids get Saturday and Sunday, while the adults have at on Monday and Tuesday.

Carnival actually has its history in the Catholic Church, hence the reason it occurs before Lent. Carne - Meat and Val(e)- Festival. Farewell to meat. It was a big celebration to consume all the rich foods and drink that was off limits throughout Lent. Trinidad's Carnival has it's roots in the slaves imitating and making fun of the masters during their celebration of Carnival.

The ingenuity and talent of the people have transformed the time from mere mimicry to the festival of colour and artistry it is today that has people flocking to the islands year after year from start to finish (although Carnival is technically that four day period before Ash Wednesday in actuality it runs much longer).

Old Mass on Friday you get a taste of the past and all those traditional characters like Pierrot Grenade, Midnight Robber and Minstrels.

Saturday and Sunday afternoon the kids take to the streets in their costumes. Some of the bigger bands have their own music trucks but there are speakers lining most streets playing soca music for the revelers in costume as well as the spectators. Thousands of people line the streets or chip along as the kids have their fun.

Steelpan which was invented in Trinidad has it's final competition on Saturday night when the best of the best to emerge from earlier competitions vie for the title of Panorama Champion. These bands have players as young as 5 with foreigners as well as locals. These foreigners are regulars who have been coming for years and are real pan lovers.

Carnival is many things to many people. A time to get away from it all. A time to be "free" and do what you want. A time to experience the beauty of our culture and the talent of our people.

To quote our Archbishop in his message for this "weekend" "It is possible to celebrate cultural events of which Carnival is one, have fun and still be faithful to what God asks of us." Carnival is part of the Trinidad and Tobago culture and it is full of beauty, talent, togetherness and history.