The “Carnival Traditions in the New World,” held by student run club Black Student Union, was held in Old Chapel this past Thursday, April 28 from 5 to 6 p.m. It explained how this traditional holiday is well known for participants’ colorful costumes and exuberant celebrations.
The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in the South American twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Trinidad and Tobago carnival is known as a Caribbean parade in which millions of people come together to celebrate the true spirit of this festive holiday.
Every year people gather around as an expression of love, of design, of music and of creativity.The costumes range from flashy and bright to creative and satirical. These outfits are a form of non-verbal communication based on dress.
These colorful costumes include sequins, feathers and other flamboyant pieces which add flair to the already over-the top ensembles worn by festival goers and performers.
Some of the most important traditional carnival characters are the baby dolls, Dame Lorraine (or Dame Lorine) and Jab Molassie. The baby dolls are masqueraders who dress up as dolls holding illegitimate babies and stop male passers-by and accuse them of being the baby’s father in order to get money.
The Dame Lorraine is a very important character that dresses up in elegant costumes of the French aristocracy to make fun of high society French ladies.
Lastly, the Jab Molassie is one of several varieties of the devil played in Trinidad and Tobago carnivals, this one being an all blue version of the famously known red devil.
This character’s costume includes a horn rimmed mask and the actor would also cover their face with grease, tar or mud to add to the illustion. The charac ter can also be seen bearing heavy chains or keys and locks around their waist and carrying a pitchfork to add to the devilish disguise.
Other notable characters portrayed during this rich holiday include Pierrot Grenade, who delivers speeches in rhyme on the day’s problems and the Minstrels, who are musicians portraying wandering bards, complete with white face paint.
As one of the most desired vendor spots on Labor Day, the Trinidad and Tobago carnival is an elaborate celebration of expression. The Carnival is also celebrated around the globe, including large cities such as London, New York City, Toronto and Miami.
Along with celebratory costumes, the carnival includes other festivities, such as stick-fighting and limbo competitions. Traditionally, the genre of music played during the celebration is calyspso music, however in more recent years the genre has changed to soca music.
Today however, musical competitions also share a large role at the event. Musicians compete for the title of Calypso Monarch along with a large cash prize. This title is a great honor in Trinidad and Tobago. This competition in particular is aired on television. The event is extremely high in energy and in creativity and it gets larger and more theatrical every year.
The talk also featured a lecture on the African influences of Caribbean Carnival celebratory traditions, given by guest speaker, Professor Donald Hyman from the College of St. Rose. His lecture was full of animation and passion as a way of showing how important this holiday is to the country’s rich heritage.
“Carnival Traditions in the New World” is a truly underestimated event, one that grows tremendously after each yearly execution and serves as a unique opportunity for people to show their theatrical and creative sides through costume as a form of unique visual expression.