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Carnival in Grenada: J’ouvert Morning

August 21, 2012

Grenada’s largest cultural event is Carnival and it takes place annually during the month of August. Scores of visitors and Grenadians resident abroad come to the island to take part in the celebrations that lasts about a week, climaxing on the public holidays Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

The origin of Grenada’s Carnival is deep rooted within the island’s history and dates back to the early years of colonization and slavery. For instance, the Jab Jab character, seen J’ouvert morning emerged as a result of slaves covering themselves with mud, molasses or charcoal as a disguise while mocking their masters during a celebration prior to the start of the Catholic Lent period.

J’ouvert, from the French words “jour ouvert” meaning the opening of the day, starts literally at the dawn of the day on Carnival Monday. This event draws large crowds. Numerous persons line the streets either to spectate or take part in the revelry. 

The original Jab Jab was thought of as devils, wearing very little clothes, covered in black from head to toe with horned helmets, a tail and tongue dyed red. Throughout the years, the Jab has evolved and it is not uncommon to see red, blue or green devils. The traditional black jab is still dominant today though and they use old vehicle oil to blacken their skin.

The hype of Carnival 2012 is slowly dwindling down and it is back to business as usual on mainland Grenada. If you missed the celebrations this year, sister isle Carriacou hosts its Carnival in the month of February and it is not too early to start preparations for next August. Hope to see you soon!

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