Some Easter traditions in the Caribbean

Spending Easter in the Caribbean is a warm and welcoming experience. As with most things in the Caribbean, local traditions put a unique tropical spin on the holiday's religious and secular celebrations.

The Religious Roots

The dominant religion throughout the Caribbean is Christianity of all denominations, particularly Roman Catholicism. No matter where you go in the Caribbean, you are sure to find a lot of churches as many island residents are quite devout. As such, Easter celebrations in the Caribbean are quite established.

Religious and Secular Events

Many islands celebrate the beginning of the pre-Lenten season with Carnival celebrations filled with partying and revelry. Regardless, Good Friday the day Jesus was crucified takes on a note of solemnity as people go to church dressed in black-and-white, to be as sombre as possible.  Further, when Easter Sunday arrives, events take on a more jubilant air, as Christian believers celebrate the Resurrection.

Popular Easter Traditions In The Caribbean

Easter Foods

Easter dinner is a wonderful part of Easter celebrations. Of course there is the tradition of no red meat eaten on Good Friday, and eating fish and vegetables becomes the rule. Easter season in Jamaica is also time for the island's premier local food event: the Trelawny Yam Festival, which is held Easter Monday features great yam preparations.

Easter bun and cheese:  A specially made spiced bun with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, filled with raisins, currents and dried fruit, eaten with cheese.

In Bermuda, codfish cakes are traditionally eaten with local bananas, while in Jamaica the Easter feast is more likely to centre on Escoveitched fish; marinated in peppers and other vegetables, then grilled or roasted snapper or parrot fish. In the Dominican Republic, sweet beans (habichuelas con dulce) are traditionally served during the Lenten season as a substitute for meat.

Kite Flying

Flying kites is a popular pastime year-round in the Caribbean. However, the practice peaks around Easter weekend in islands like Barbados, Trinidad, Bermuda, and Grenada. It is symbolic of Jesus' resurrection from the grave and His eventual ascension into Heaven. These events feature impressive creations, with massive kites emblazoned with creative designs

Typically, the Easter weekend falls on dry season, making for a holiday weekend filled with beautiful warm weather.  Winds are typically high during that time as well. In addition to flying kites on the weekend, locals will also take their creative efforts and build beautiful and artistic kites, which may be entered in one of the many kite-flying competitions held during the Easter weekend. These kites will frequently be kept up all day, weather permitting.

Bermuda in particular has a special tradition with Good Friday and kite-flying. This is due to specific religious reasons. This tradition started on a Good Friday when a teacher who taught Sunday school found difficulty explaining the Ascension to his class. He launched a kite in the likeness of Christ to help his students to better understand. Because of this, kite-flying has a very special meaning to Bermudians on Good Friday. Originally, the kites would not be flown until after 3 PM, but now they will be flown no matter what time of day it is. Kite-flying and making in Bermuda is considered to be very serious.

Trinidad and Tobago also finds kite-flying to be an important part of Easter weekend activities.  Whether in Bermuda or Trinidad and Tobago, or any other Caribbean country, kite-flying is a traditional way to relax and enjoy a beautiful and warm Easter weekend with family and friends.

Superstition

As with everything, there are various mythical beliefs centred on Easter.

Bleeding Tree

In Jamaica it is a common practice to cut the physic nut tree on Good Friday. It is believed that this yields a red fluid, symbolizing the suffering and blood of Christ. Many believe that the tree is similar to that used in the crucifixion.

Breaking Eggs

Also in some parts of the Caribbean, breaking a fresh egg out in the sun at precisely midday and placing it in a container of holy water on Holy Thursday will form a pattern of coagulated egg white by Good Friday that can be used to predict the future. For example, a ship or anything resembling a boat means you will be travelling.

Beware the Beach on Good Friday

While this Caribbean legend may not be too popular with tourists, the tradition on some islands holds that if you step into the ocean on Good Friday, you will turn into a fish. With the previously mentioned being extremely farfetched, others simply say it is bad luck to go to the beach. The concept arises from the thought that it is bad to be working on your tan on the day of the Crucifixion. A version of this superstition also prevails in Belize, where people fear they will turn into mermaids.

Regardless, on some islands, example the Bahamas, Easter weekend is traditionally 'back to the beach’ time as the Atlantic waters have finally warmed up enough for everyone to go swimming. In truth, today, going to the beach is no longer bad luck!

These are the most popular traditional Easter traditions of the Caribbean.  With the gorgeous weather and Christian traditions conspiring to make it a time both solemn and fun-filled, you will be fortunate to spend Easter in the Caribbean. Go eat some Easter bun! Go to church! Fly a kite! This Easter, enjoy the Caribbean traditions and have a happy Easter!

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