The month of October is a special month for St Lucians, who celebrate Creole Heritage Month, Jounen Kweyol and Oktoberfest en Kweyol throughout the island.
October is a wonderful time to visit St Lucia, as this is the time of year when visitors are able to see St Lucians celebrating the cultural traditions that make the island such a special place.
The entire month of October is ‘Creole Heritage Month‘, where the traditional food, music, crafts and national costume of St Lucia are celebrated in a series of community-based events throughout the island.
At the beginning of the month, a relatively new festival – “Oktoberfest en Kweyol” – takes place, which is influenced by European beer festivals. At “Oktoberfest en Kweyol”, which in 2011 is to be held on Sunday 2 October at Samaans Park, visitors can join in the celebrations of a world of beer, St Lucia’s Creole heritage, and enjoy a mix of St Lucian and regional entertainment. “Oktoberfest en Kweyol” celebrates the simple things in life: good beer, good food, good dancing and good entertainment, and is endorsed by the St Lucian Folk Research Centre.
Throughout the month, a number of events take place throughout the island. In 2011 these will include pageants, art exhibitions, storytelling, music and dancing, all celebrating the Kweyol language and island culture.
The climax of the celebrations is Jounen Kweyol – Creole Day – which is held every year on the Sunday closest to International Creole Day, which takes place on 28 October and is celebrated by 15 million Creole speakers around the world.
During Jounen Kweyol islanders wear the national costume, which for women consists of a white blouse and long skirt adorned with the ‘Madras’, a colourful piece of fabric. The outfit is topped off with a special headpiece, the “tete en l’air”, which is arranged into peaks signifying the marital status of the wearer. One peak means ‘I am free’, two means ‘I am engaged’, and three means ‘I am married’. According to some sources, a fourth peak means the lady is open to offers!
Many communities around St Lucia host special events during Jounen Kweyol, which include live music, displays of traditional craft techniques, recitals, dancing… and St Lucian food of course plays a very important role in the celebrations. Community food stands and stalls offer traditional foods like green fig and saltfish, breadfruit, manicou (agouti), bakes and lots of local juices – and, of course, cocoa tea, made from the cocoa grown on the island. Many St Lucia restaurants join in the fun, offering traditional St Lucian dishes alongside their regular menus.
The Marguerite Flower Society festival is also held during October and this, like Fet La Woz (held in August by the rival Rose Flower Society), comprises a series of singing and dancing events celebrating the society’s patron saint.
While Creole Heritage Month, Jounen Kweyol and Oktoberfest en Kweyol are community-based events, visitors are made to feel very welcome – so if you’re going to be in St Lucia during the month of October, do make a point of visiting some of these wonderful, colourful events so you can get a taste of the real St Lucia.