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Trinidad & Tobago
Events and Fests
Disputed by Spanish, French, Dutch and British settlers, Trinidad and Tobago is another sample of the multiculturalism that is very representative of the Caribbean countries. A look at its origins explains the two-island nation’s diverse cultural festivities, which incorporates traditions from its African, Indian and indigenous heritage. Likewise, this nation combines the vibrant personality of its largest island, Trinidad; and the more relaxed Tobago, its smaller sister. These aspects influence greatly the intensity of the cultural manifestations on each island. Some of the celebrations do not have a fixed date, so it is advisable to check the calendar of festivities for each year.
New Year’s Day
Just like almost any other country around the world, French Guiana celebrates the arrival of a new year every January 1st, and the celebrations start since December 31st among displays of fireworks and joyful concerts.
FEBRUARY - MARCH
Carnival (Last week before Ash Wednesday)
The steel drum bands with its typical pan (steel band music) and the rhythms of calypso and soca are the center around which the two-day Carnival celebrations revolve. Despite Carnival is not a public holiday, most businesses are closed and the streets fill with the excitement of the dances, and colorful costumes representative of this notable celebration, which takes place 40 days before Easter, on Monday and Tuesday between February and March. The dates are not specific and they may vary every year. Carnivals in Trinidad are one of the most spectacular festivities around the world.
Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day
Owing its name to John the Baptist, Spiritual/ Shouter Baptists commemorate their Liberation Day on March 30th, after thirty-four years of prohibition of public display of this religion that combines African and Christian beliefs and it is unique, since it is indigenous from Trinidad and Tobago. Practitioners of this religion were called shouters because of their shouting and clapping during their religious ceremonies. Spiritual Baptists observe all Christian celebrations that are held in Trinidad and Tobago.
MARCH - APRIL
Phagwa or Holi
Another festival of Hindu origins, Phagwa or Holi celebrates the birth of Sarawasti Jayanti, Hindu goddess of knowledge and arts. This day also marks the beginning of spring. Observers get involved in dances and chants as they are sprayed with different color shades. The Dholak and the Majeera are the traditional percussive instruments used at this celebration.
APRIL – MAY
Easter in Trinidad and Tobago is celebrated in two public holidays (Good Friday and Easter Monday) between the months of April and May and it is a celebration of Christian origins. Locals who observe these holidays avoid eating meat and pork on Good Friday and prefer fish instead. On Easter Monday, meat and pork can be eaten. Egg hunts and the Hot Cross Buns are symbolic of these days.
APRIL – MAY – JUNE
A four-day non-public holiday, Hosay is celebrated in April, May or June, depending on the Islamic lunar calendar, and it pays homage to Battle of Kerbala martyrs Hassan and Hussein, grandsons of the prophet Mohammed. Parades and processions can be seen during these four days representing mosques and crescent moons, and slow dances are performed to the sound of Tassa drums, as an allegorical representation of the Battle of Kerbala.
On May 30th, Trinidad and Tobago commemorates the arrival of the Indian laborers brought in 1845, which has influenced the islands’ multicultural heritage with the introduction of their customs and spices, an important part of the nation’s cuisine.
MAY - JUNE
Every year, on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, Trinidad and Tobago observes the Corpus Christi, a Catholic commemoration of the institution of the Holy Eucharist which is celebrated with religious processions.
JULY - AUGUST
Tobago Heritage Festival
This celebration is the biggest event in Tobago, and it comes as a celebration of its African descent. It lasts for two weeks, although it is not a public holiday. All dances, music and folkloric activities carried out on this event are filled with joy and inspired on the African traditions.
Every August 1st, the locals celebrate the abolition of slavery in Trinidad in Tobago, declared in 1834. Parades, chants, music and other folkloric manifestations of African origins are performed on this day, which is a public holiday.
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
A Muslim celebration, Eid al-Fitr celebrates the sighting of the new crescent moon according to the, and marks the end of Ramadan, a period of fasting. During this day, which is honored on August or September -depending on the Islamic lunar calendar-visits to mosques are traditional.
On September 24th, Trinidad and Tobago celebrates, among official and popular parades and festivities, its declaration of republic status, after declaring its independence on August 1st, 1976, from the British monarchy.
Associated with prosperity and abundance, The Diwali festival is a celebration of Indian origins which pays homage to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of light, wealth and prosperity. Because of its light displays around the houses, the Diwali Festival is also known as the Festival of Lights.
Trinidad and Tobago commemorates Boxing Day as a reminder of the “boxes” with provisions that were given to servants on the day after Christmas as a present. This is a yearly public holiday which is observed on December 26th.