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A month long celebration, the Crucian Christmas Carnival (or Crucian Christmas Festival) incorporates modern day celebrations of long standing traditions. These holiday traditions date back to at least the early 1800s when enslaved Africans were allowed time off to celebrate Christmas, and they made the most of this time off by celebrating. They dressed up in costumes, paraded through the streets of town, visited other plantations, and they celebrated with dancing, music and general merrymaking. In 1952, these traditions were revived into an annual organized festival of events we’ve come to know as the Crucian Christmas Carnival.
While most of the Carnival action happens in Frederiksted where the main Carnival Village is setup, there are events and venues that span across the island of St. Croix. Festival celebrations include displays and competitions of talented bands and musicians, pageants for Carnival royalty, cultural activities, and fairs that showcase local arts, crafts, foods, and drinks. But, the best is saved for last at the culmination of Carnival: J’ouvert, the Children’s Parade, and the famous Adult’s Parade.
J’ouvert is celebrated in many countries throughout the Caribbean, including St. Croix, as part of Carnival celebrations throughout the year. Meaning “dawn” or “daybreak” in French, this celebration consists of calypso or soca bands and their followers dancing through the streets. The festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise. Anyone can join in in the fun and follow the musicians, and there are often multiple J’ourvet celebrations across St. Croix to accommodate all those who want to participate.
The Carnival parades are the highlight of Crucian Christmas Carnival, and the last official events of the Carnival festivities. A beautiful display of Crucian culture, the parades feature troupes dancing through the streets all day long wearing beautifully hand crafted, vibrant, feathery costumes. From majorettes to moko jumbies, steel pan bands to fire dancers, the parades offer a unique chance for spectators to experience the magic, traditions, and cultural heritage of St. Croix.
See you there!