Grenada may not be well-known around the world, but it's had plenty of time to develop a personality of its own. Beginning with music and Carnival, Grenada's culture is a well-developed adventure in the arts.
The original Amerindians of Grenada came to the island from the Amazonian Basin of South America. Though the population is incredibly small, descendents of these people seem to exist along the island's northern countryside. An overwhelming percentage of the population are descendents of African slaves brought to Grenada to work the plantations owned by Europeans, while a small amount of Europeans, Americans, and Asians make their home on the island as well.
Between the 17th and 20th centuries, Grenada was traded back and forth between England and France numerous times. Grenada finally gained independence in 1974, however, much of the islanders' identity is tied up in English and French customs. Politically, Grenada is often in line with the United States rather than England or France.
There are many linguistic nuances on Grenada, mostly due to its history. Though English is the main language, traces of French and African languages can still be heard.
Folklore has also been an important spoken tradition on Grenada. The tradition of telling folk stories is alive and well here, particularly on the island of Carriacou. Three of the most popular characters from these tales testify to the many cultures that have combined on these islands: Anancy, a West African spider, trickster-god; La Diablesse, the devil-woman; and Ligaroo, from the French Loupgaroux, meaning werewolf.
The majority of islanders are affiliated with Roman Cathalicism, with Protestantism coming in at a close second. Interestingly, perhaps due to the high population of African descendents, many believers who consider themselves Christian also believe in obeah, or white magic. Obeah agents are known for their ability to cast a spell, and newspaper articles can often be found sighting the rising of a spirit who is haunting the island.
The traditional Caribbean cultural celebration of Carnival is a very important festival on Grenada. Several other festivals are also important, including the celebration of the nation's independence from Britain and a national dance festival.
|Carnival||Unlike many other Caribbean locales, Grenada has two Carnivals. The first is on Carriacou in February, and the second is on Grenada in July or August. These two cultural events are known for their bright colors, costumes, and general festivities, including the naming of many Carnival dignitaries.|
|Independence Day||Grenada's independence from Britain came on February 7, 1974, and this date is celebrated annually. Many celebrations happen during this time, and some include an Award Ceremony and Cultural Extravaganza, Military Parade and Rally, and a Reception at the Governor General's house.|
|National Dance Festival||Begun in 1991 to encourage children in one parish's public schools to dance, this festival has grown into a national affair. The festival lasts a week and is now held twice yearly. It features regional dancers as well as local children.|
Other festivals highlight the arts and steel pan music.
Traditionally, calypso and reggae have been the most important musical styles on Grenada. But in more recent years, outside sources have influenced the local music. "Zouk" from the French Caribbean is changing the sound of calypso, while steel band music has been imported from nearby Trinidad and Tobago.
African dances are particularly important as well, as many Grenadians have been able to maintain their tribal heritage throughout the years. Each tribe has its own unique drum and dance style. These are often performed at Big Drum festivals. Carnival is an important time to remember song and dance, as well.
Grenadians' mixed heritage has given the islanders a culture all their own. From their two Carnival celebrations to the folklore and personal histories passed down in family memories, you're sure to get a truly Caribbean feel from this spirited mix.
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