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Trini Jungle Juice: Carnival Photos :: U.S. Virgin Islands Carnival | USVI Carnival


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Carnival in the U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas: The first Carnival in St. Thomas was on February 14, 1912 and the second in 1914 – both while the islands were part of the Danish West Indies. The early Carnival celebrations included activities that are part of current Carnivals like bands, Carnival queen, special games and a parade. After 1914 it would be 38 years before there was another Carnival on St. Thomas. During this time music, masquerading and dancing continued on special days, holidays and other events. Some of these traditions began to lose some ground as they competed with new trends brought to the island by immigration and travel. In 1952 a radio personality named Ron De Lugo was reminiscing about festival traditions. De Lugo sent out a call that there should be a Carnival. Some people in the community did not think it was a good idea, the population was very aware of class distinctions and there wasn’t much social life between them. De Lugo many years later in an interview noted that on Carnival parade day he feared that no one would show up. But people did show up, and Carnival has been going annually ever since. Over the years additional elements have been added. It is currently a three week event taking place in April and is called V.I. Carnival.


St. Croix: St. Croix’s Carnival is called the Crucian Christmas Festival and it became an annual event in 1952 with the revival of old holiday traditions transformed into modern Carnival. Dating back at least to the early-1800s enslaved Africans on St. Croix were allowed to celebrate Christmas and New Years. The celebrations on plantations included drumming, singing and dancing. In the main towns it involved parading through the streets of town singing, dancing and playing drums; often stopping door to door for rum and wine. Masquerading was popular during Christmas and other holidays including Easter and Whit Monday. These traditions continued into the early 1900s but saw some decline. Social events kept music traditions and dances like the quadrille, lancers and bomboula alive. The Carnival festival collected traditions into one big event with a focus on the former holiday celebrations. The event has become more and more organized each year and has incorporated additional events. Today it last about four weeks starting in December and ending with the parades in January.


St. John: The Carnival celebrations on St. John have triple celebration power. It is Carnival and it takes place during two important holidays; Emancipation Day – a local holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery and 4th of July/Independence Day – the U.S. holiday commemorating independence. In 1960 the 4th of July celebrations on St. John evolved into Carnival and the festival lasted more than a week. Today the event last several weeks and culminates on the 4th of July. It is called the St. John Festival.


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