Diving into St Lucia Culture and Embracing Traditions
The St Lucia culture is one of the most friendly and welcoming in the Caribbean. If you want to live like a local and really embrace the traditions of your host country, you should familiarise yourself with some of St Lucia’s fascinating history and these key local practices.
Where Does the Name St Lucia Come From?
There’s some dispute about who gave St Lucia its name. The story that many believe is that Columbus sighted the Island on St Lucy’s Day, 13th December 1498. Some historians dispute this, believing instead that the name was taken from one of the French visitors in the 1500s.
St Lucy’s Day, often now known as St Lucia’s Day, is still celebrated around the world in many Christian countries. The day is especially popular in Scandinavia, where it is marked with public processions, special songs and the eating of “Lussekatt” (St Lucy buns).
In St Lucia, it is a national holiday that begins the night before with the Festival of Lights and Renewal. It is celebrated with Christmas-themed lights in the capital city, competitions to create the most beautiful decorative lanterns and often a fireworks display.
Events and Festivals in St Lucia Culture
In addition to St Lucy’s Day, there are several other important dates that you should mark in your calendar!
Independence Day, 22nd February
St Lucia won its independence under Sir John Compton of the United Workers Party (UWP) on 22nd February 1979. It has been formally recognised as an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations ever since.
The day is celebrated with patriotic parades, calypso dancing and competitive kite-flying.
The Jazz and Arts Festival, May
As of 2017, this world-renowned jazz festival will be in its 26th year. The dates do vary, so be sure to check the official website.
The festival features jazz, soul, R&B, pop, reggae and soca music along with dance performances and events featuring food and fashion. Many international jazz musicians make the trip to St Lucia every year, so if you’re a fan of the genre this event is unmissable.
St Lucia Carnival, mid-July
The carnival season comprises of several days of high-energy street parties with live music and culminates with a huge pageant of costumed performers and bands dancing through the streets.
It’s also a great time to try the Island’s favourite treats, as street food vendors are out in full force.
Rose Festival (31st August) and The Feast of La Marguerite (17th October)
These two celebrations share a long-running “rivalry” thanks to the opposing views of the two historic cultural associations that organise them, La Woz and La Magwit. Each festival is dedicated to celebrating the namesake flower and will include music, dances and food.
Chocolate Heritage Month, August
August is also Chocolate Heritage month, which commemorates St Lucia’s thriving cocoa industry which has been in operation for more than 300 years. Many restaurants will create special dishes built around the star ingredient. Cocoa is also used in spa treatments and plantation tours are on offer for those curious about how the sweet treat is created.
St Lucia Traditional Dance
In addition to common Caribbean dances like the calypso, mambo and salsa, there are some dances that are particular to St Lucia, having been created as a result of the combination of Latin American beats and the influence of early French settlers.
The first, the “Zouk” comes from the French Creole word for “party.” It’s a sensual dance that comes from the Brazilian lambada which is performed to a fast beat.
The other important dance is much closer to traditional French movements and is derived from the quadrille. Known by the Creole term “kwadril” this complex group dance is held as part of more formal events in private homes, and comprises of five separate sections; the pwémyé fidji, dézyèm fidji, twazyèm fidji, katwiyèm fidji and gwan won.
Traditional Dress in St Lucia Culture
The traditional fabric used in St Lucia is a red and lime tartan that is used to make the madras dress. This fabric is fashioned into skirts, dresses, shirts and accessories. It’s even been known to make it into home decor, with cushions, curtains and bedding occasionally seen in the iconic colours.
See You in St Lucia
If you’re currently looking for your own slice of paradise, and are ready to dive in to St Lucia culture and embrace the rhythms of the Island, Landings Residences are offering exclusive opportunities to purchase 5* beachfront real estate in our latest development. Get in touch to discuss your options through our online contact page.