CARNIVAL IN SINT MAARTEN
Carnival came to Sint Marten forty years ago, so this year’s Carnival is a special one.
Carnival dates back hundreds if not thousands of years. It used to be the last fling before Lent started and Christians would have to fast until Easter. In French countries we have a break in the middle of Lent, called Mi-Carême.
Sint Maarten has already started the celebration. There is a Carnival village, which is a sort of fairgrounds, and all kinds of foods, in particular chicken leg and Johnny cake. This is probably our national specialty. Thousands of chicken legs are barbecued during the Carnival season, in fact, all throughout the year.
There are beauty contests, a Miss Teen Carnival and an adult Carnival queen. There are calypso and soca music contests; the winner is called the Monarch in deference to woman’s lib. Time was when it was always a calypso King, but things and times have changed, even in the Caribbean.
Sint Maarten’s Carnival is celebrated at the end of April, due mostly to the fact that if everybody celebrated it at the proper time for Carnival, there would be too many Carnivals going on at the same time. So a few islands have their carnival equivalent at different times of the year.
Saint Kitts and the American Virgins have a Christmas festival, Nevis has Culturama in August. We have ours in April.
The Dutch queen’s birthday is celebrated on April 30th and May 1st being Labor Day in most parts of the world, there are two holidays back to back. Then the island exchanged one of its other holidays for May 2nd and Carnival has three days of festivities.
It must also be mentioned, April is the start of what passes for our rainy season, and lots of times shows are either postponed or kept during the rain. It cools down everything.