St. Vincent and the Grenadines Carnival
Vinci-Mas as it is known the world over began in the 1890's and was celebrated the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It was a time when the religious world said farewell to sins and begin the period of fasting called lent in which people refrained from loud behaviour. The 1900 saw the introduction of calypso, but the street parade was made up of mostly working class people. Not so today, as status, ethnic background employee as well as employer comes together in one major outburst of celebrating. 1947-1961 saw the carnival growing and by then consisted of the steelband and is now celebrated from the weekend to the Tuesday of the following week.
The Jaycees took control of the organizing of the carnival during the period of 1962-76 and incorporated the different competitions and costumed bands as well as introducing Queen shows and calypso competitions.
1977 saw the changing of the date and the creation of a 10-day festival in July managed by the now organized Carnival Development committee. This date change in no way halted the carnival fever but in many ways made it a bigger and better event. The partying continued to a maximum with a fresh sense of abandonment. Calypso music provides the correct atmosphere and creating the right climate for the real bacchanal. This is a time for throwing away inhibitions and hang-ups to the wind and "freeing-up". The streets of Kingstown become a hive of activity buzzing with round the clock excitement. During this season the society is classless, non-racial, a miniature United Nations held together by dance, a tower of Babel whose lingus franca is music. The community undergoes s distinct personality change. It is African market place, Mid-Eastern bazaar and downtown Brixton/Brooklyn rolled onto one. Always, there is a constant hammering in the streets to deafening Deejay music blaring out of temporary bars built without doors. A delightful pandemonium reigns supreme in Kingstown on Carnival Monday and Tuesday marking the climatic outbursts of this ten-day orgy of mirth and gaiety. One cannot help by being struck by the clash of music, riot of color, display of talent and the general movement of a teeming mass of humanity. It is the grand finale, the last lap that builds up in a rising crescendo to the final explosion. The lengthened shadow of the festival lingers as plans are made for the next year. The sweet taste of the parties and fun filled days still in the mouth and the yearning begins and the hearts jumps ahead to the year ahead and plans are made to do it all over again.