Celebrating Carnival on St. John USVI
Every year St. John celebrates Carnival with a month-long series of events and Festival activities that culminate on the 4th of July with an early morning party (J’ouvert), colorful daytime parade, and fireworks and more music that night.
The ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks are important elements in Caribbean festivals. Parading around villages was believed to bring good fortune and appease deceased relatives. Carnival masks and costumes are often made with natural elements, like grass or shells, to represent the spiritual forces of nature. Feathers symbolize the ability to rise above misfortune. African drum rhythms, large puppets, stick fighters, and stilt dancers add to eclectic and colorful mix of activities.
Carnival took root in many parts of the world where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered into the slave trade. Carnival celebrations are found in Brazil, Louisiana, Central and South America and throughout the Caribbean, including; Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, Haiti, Cuba, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Marten and others. Similar carnival festivals can even be found in Canada and the U.S., where Caribbean people have settled.