A Festival That Brings People Together Even In These Hard Times

Like many other activities, J’Ouvert was hosted this year virtually, a holiday known for its vibrance and togetherness. Many people are not aware of this festival because it is widely celebrated by a specific culture group. First, you might be wondering what is J’ouvert? The word J’ouvert means dawn, daybreak, or morning. This daybreak signals the beginning of the carnival. J’Ouvert was introduced to the Caribbean by French plantation owners in the later 1700s. Slaves were not able to participate in the large masquerade balls that were held by the French. Feeling left out, the slaves made costumes from torn clothes and held their own balls. Participants of J’ouvert today still wear old, worn clothes and paint to make you for places where the skin is not covered with clothes. J’Ouvert is normally celebrated with Calypso, Soca, and Reggae blasting the streets and the carnival is known for the amazing street food that can be found along the designated route. Like many other subculture groups, the Caribbean people brought this extravagant celebration with them when a large immigrant group immigrated to New York. A large number of immigrants settled in Brooklyn, by 1930 a quarter of Brooklyn’s population was from the Caribbean. A Trinidad native started the carnival in 1930 inside ballrooms. Since then it has been a long-standing tradition every Labour Day weekend. This past labor day weekend there was no exception, many people attended the virtual event. Promoter expected a dwindling of attendees, and when they did surveys the attendees spoke about the legacy of J’ouvert. J’ouvert is one of the legacies our forefathers passed down to us from generations ago and used their oppression as upliftment. As for me, growing up in Jamaica, the carnival is an integral part of our culture that helps us to be grateful. In these hard times, it still gives something to celebrate and something to give us hope just like our forefathers. There is a parallel in these times that we find ourselves in and the times of our forefathers, just as they used this as a way to celebrate life and all blessings, we are using to be our light in the dark tunnel.