Tag Archives | St. Lucia

Join us for Jounen Kweyol

We travel to the Caribbean for one of our favorite holidays — Saint Lucia’s Jounen Kweyol.

Saint Lucia’s Jounen Kweyol is a festival that celebrates the island’s multicultural Creole heritage that mixes British, French, African and Caribbean influences. At the festival, which takes place every year on the last Sunday of October, you’ll see, according St-Lucia-Vacation-Guide.com, “men displaying how they used to saw wood, the making of Creole bread using wood to heat the oven, making of cassava bread, bakes and fish cakes made out of Cray fish, the making of certain tantalizing dishes that were prepared long ago that has lost its popularity in recent times; crab callaloo, pemie, roasted sardines eaten with breadfruit, and more.” As you’ll see in this video, at that time of year Lucians wear madras, the national form of dress, and you’ll hear them speaking the local French-based Creole language.

The Kwadril is not “square”

Let’s square up and dance the Kwadril!

The St. Lucian Kwadril (“Quadrille”) is highly choreographed Creole folk dance and accompanying music style based on the European quadrille. In both dances, as we see in this video, four couples dance in a square, following intricate moves, like American Square Dance. Lucians accompany the kwadril by playing, as says Wikipedia, the cuatro, a rattle, the chakchak, bones called zo, a violin, banjo, mandolin and guitar.

How You Keepin’?

We leap at the occasion of our visit to St. Lucia to celebrate Antillean Creole.

English is the official language of St. Lucia, but about 80% of the population speaks Antillean Creole, which is a Creole based on French and mixed with vocabulary from African languages and Carib. Each year on the last Sunday in October St. Lucians celebrate “Jounen Kweyol” to express pride in Creole language and culture. (We’ll learn more about Jounen Kweyol later this week.) Enjoy this video of the St. Lucia National Youth choirs as you say learn to say hello and goodbye as one might in St. Lucia: hello (how you keepin’?) is “Ka ou fè?” and goodbye (see you later) is “Ovwa.”

Sweet St. Lucia

All Around This World map of the Caribbean featuring St. Lucia

This week in our online class we go LOW — down deep into the so-called “Lesser Antilles,” a stretch of delightful islands in the southern Caribbean. We start today with a visit to St. Lucia, where the first inhabitants of the island, the Arawak who lived there for hundreds of years before the Caribs came in the 800s and pushed them out. Europeans settled until in the 1550s when a feared pirate known as Wooden Leg used it as a base from which to attack Spanish ships. For 150 years the British and French fought over the island; it changed hands between them fourteen times before the British finally pushed the French out in 1814. The island became an independent nation in 1979 but is still part of the British Commonwealth.

Our Jounen Kweyol


We end this week with our own version of a St. Lucian Jounen Kweyol celebration. Okay, so we don’t hit all the points, and, since the kids in class are generally one to five years old and not so well-versed in the historical machinations of the Colonial Era we may not be able to impart all the nuances of the holiday, but heck, can’t we still have fun? Here’s how we do it.
1) Start the music. Have students wear imaginary MADRAS to mark the occasion.
2) Start dancing. Simulate the KWADRIL, based upon the highly choreographed European quadrille.
3) SAW WOOD.
4) BAKE BREAD.
5) EAT CRAWFISH , CRAB CALALOO and ROASTED SARDINES.
5) Repeat — dance, saw, bake, eat, dance. For fun, jumble the order and go faster and faster. Saw, dance, bake, eta. Bake, eat, dance, saw. Eat, bake, saw, DANCE!

An even cooler Kwadril

And then we danced the St. Lucian Kwadril….

Yesterday we enjoyed a video of the St. Lucian Kwadril, joining delightful dancers, dressed to the nines in traditional “quadrille” outfits — a group of primary school students performing at the Choiseul Village Council swearing-in ceremony. Today we share this video of a non-costumed group from St. Lucia dancing a kwadril that is less formal and, I’d say, at least 1.3 times the fun.

Jammin’ with Jwé

Best cover your ears when you listen to St. Lucian Jwe.

St. Lucian “Jwé” is a playful, sometimes raunchy folk musical style that appears at beach parties, dances, full moon gatherings and, of course, wakes. Musicians from St. Lucia improvise bawdy lyrics full of double entendres (in Lucian culture this is referred to as lang dévivé,  “saying the opposite of what is meant”), and the audience participates by clapping, laughing and singing along. While we do appreciate playfully offensive folk music, since in our classes we’re singing for kids, let’s share this short video clip of St. Lucian folk music that is lovely and lyric-free.