Hope you’re having a great week! I just got back from a very fun and insightful vacation in Trinidad. Not sure about you, but when I hear people speak of Carnival it’s always about the amazing parties, but it’s so much more that…
Like many other nations under colonial rule, the history of Native Americans and African people in Trinidad is a brutal, sad story. Spain and England at different times both claimed Trinidad as their colonies. Under British rule, the French settled in Trinidad, bringing with them their slaves, customs, and culture. By 1797, 14,000 French settlers came to live in Trinidad, consisting of about 2,000 whites and 12,000 slaves. Most of the native peoples (often called the Amerindians) who were the first people to live in Trinidad, died from forced labor and illness.
Carnival was introduced to Trinidad around 1785, as the French settlers began to arrive. The tradition caught on quickly, and fancy balls were held where the wealthy planters put on masks, wigs, and beautiful dresses and danced long into the night. The use of masks had special meaning for the slaves, because for many African peoples, masking is widely used in their rituals for the dead. Obviously banned from the masked balls of the French, the slaves would hold their own little carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating their masters’ behavior at the masked balls.
For African people, carnival became a way to express their power as individuals, as well as their rich cultural traditions. After 1838 (when slavery was abolished), the freed Africans began to host their own carnival celebrations in the streets that grew more and more elaborate, and soon became more popular than the balls.
Today, carnival in Trinidad is like a mirror that reflects the faces the many immigrants who have come to this island nation from Europe, Africa, India, and China. African, Asian, and American Indian influences have been particularly strong.
Now on to the fun part…
I had A BALL, lol – from drinking fresh coconut water every night to partying until 4 in the morning! Everything from the beautiful female-owned bed & breakfast L`Ochidee to the delicious food was to die for!
- “Hatty Lime” is one the best parties you can go to. They serve amazing food, and all the best Soca artists will show up and show out! So be ready to DANCE! P.S. feel free to wear your flats, but remember that the dress code is white & lime!
- My favorite Trinidadian food is ‘Bake & Shark’. Words can’t explain how yummy this dish is, especially at the beach.
- Carnival is just an amazing experience – from the dancing to all of the beautiful colorful costumes.