October is creole heritage month and celebrations are due to break out all over the island this Sunday 25th October 2015, as St. Lucia celebrates her 31st annual Jounen Kwéyòl. This is a great opportunity to experience the local creole culture including a vast assortment of food, music, dance and creole fashions.
What is Creole or Kwéyòl?
Creole is the English name for Kwéyòl, the language and culture of St. Lucia which derives from her mixed heritage of French, African, Amerindian, English and Indian influences. In fact, Creole culture exists in one form or another all over the world including the Caribbean, the USA, Africa and the Pacific.
Creole Heritage Month, International Creole Day & Jounen Kwéyòl
International Creole Day is celebrated each year, by Creole people all over the world on the 28th October. October is Creole Heritage Month and St. Lucia celebrates Jounen Kwéyòl on the last Sunday of the month.
St. Lucian creole food served in traditional earthenware originally used by the Amerindians
Food, Glorious Food!
There is no better time of the year to sample St. Lucia’s creole cuisine, than Jounen Kwéyòl. Many of the dishes served on this special day are not readily available at other times of the year.
Prepare for a mouth watering selection of local dishes including St. Lucia’s National Dish of green figs and salt fish, souse (pork and cucumber), bouillon (fish or meat stews with local vegetables and ground provisions including yams, dasheen, sweet potato & tania), fried plantain, accras (fried fish cakes), bakes and floats (fried dough), crayfish, roasted breadfruit, red beans and dumplings, farrine (avocado and cassava flour), cocoa tea, local juices, tamarind balls, fudge and pemie (sweet cornflour and coconut cake served in banana leaves). This is only a highlight of some of the available dishes and there are plenty of other culinary delights on offer.
By Kwéyòl custom, all diets are suspended with absolute disregard for Jounen Kwéyòl! It is a time to savor and indulge in the island’s favorite offerings.
The BOOM! of bursting bamboo echoes throughout the land to the delight of fascinated children. Large lengths of bamboo are filled with kerosene and then ignited to produce the familiar sound of Jounen Kwéyòl.
St. Lucian man in traditional dress with a bottle of spiced rum
Many St. Lucians dress in the colorful madras for Jounen Kwéyòl. Men wear black trousers and either a white or madras shirt with bow-tie, sometimes with a traditional straw hat. The women dress in a white cotton blouse with red ribbons, a long white skirt overlaid with a shorter madras skirt, a madras headpiece and a scarf worn over the shoulder.
St. Lucian women in traditional dress
There is also a tradition of only speaking patois or the local creole language on Jounen Kwéyòl. If you don’t speak patois, you will still be able to join in the fun, although be prepared to be teased a little by friendly locals.
The Four Host Communities
Each year, a number of communities are chosen to host the annual Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations, each bringing their own dimension to the festivities. This year’s host communities are Boguis in the north, Laborie in the south, Ti Rocher, Micoud in the east, and Canaries in the west.
Wherever you are this Sunday, we wish you all a happy Jounen Kwéyòl!
Jounen Kwéyòl festivities are organised by the Folk Research Centre.
Photos are provided courtesy of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board.