St. Vincent’s Nine Mornings Festival

From December 16 to 24, locals in St. Vincent and the Grenadines participate in this annual celebration, the Nine Mornings Festival, which spans nine days of festivities from 4 am to dawn. A festival unique to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this is a series of pre-dawn street concerts, fetes, beach limes, fairs, games, contests, story telling, and steel pan music that take place each of the nine days before Christmas in various towns and villages. Every year from December 16 until Christmas Day, people leap out of bed before dawn to parade through Kingstown in seasonal attire for the Nine Mornings Festival. Many people attend mass from 5:30am during the Nine Mornings Festival at different churches around the island and in Kingstown. In the rural areas, the final morning of the festivity usually ends with a steel band “jump-up” (dance party).

According to the St. Vincent and Grenadines Ministry of Tourism, “The origins of this festivity are clouded in some mystery, although the original tradition relates it to the ‘novena’ of the Catholic Church on the nine days before Christmas. It is believed that after the early morning church services of the Catholics, worshippers began walking the streets while others went for sea baths. From this, the popular festivity emerged. Although popular opinion has this practice as starting during the period of slavery, it was more likely to have been a post-emancipation practice. It is also believed that in the 1920s, a Vincentian member of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church initiated a tradition of celebrating a Christmas novena in the early hours of the morning.”

For more information, see http://www.macocaribbean.com/2007/12/unique-christmas-in-st-vincent-and.html and http://events.frommers.com/sisp/index.htm?fx=event&event_id=18214#ixzz0ZiroZbOo

Photo of steel drum from www.socafreak.com/steel-drum-music.html

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