Holidays in Barbados are a combination of days in honor of important people and events to its past and Christian holidays that were introduced by the British.
New Years Day. January 1. New Years in Barbados is considered one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and for many it's the biggest party of the year. Horse racing is huge in Barbados, as with many other former British colonies, and New Years is the beginning of the horse-racing season. Many Catholics may attend a midnight mass. Some Barbadians celebrate what's called "first footing," which is done by Santa Claus. It's said that he leaves gifts of bread, meats, coal, and/or whiskey. And to me, that's awesome. I'll take it all, even the coal. And of course, no New Years celebration is complete without fireworks.
Errol Barrow Day. January 21. Errol Barrow was a former prime minister who was instrumental in leading Barbados in its fight for independence from Britain. The day chosen is his birthday. Most businesses are closed on this day.
Good Friday. Varies. Since many Barbadians are Christian, many people will attend church services throughout the day. Some people choose to wear dark-colored clothing, as if they were in mourning. It had been an unspoken rule in the past to avoid going to the beaches on Good Friday, but in recent years, that rule has been relaxed some. Another tradition is that many people will only eat fish and no other meat on Good Friday. I could be ok with that. For a day at least.
Easter. Varies. Many church services are offered on Easter Sunday. People will wear their best and brightest outfits, and spend the day with friends and family. Lavish meals are shares by everyone.
Easter Monday. Varies. Most businesses are closed on Easter Monday, and people usually spend this day to relax and rest up from the festivities of the days before. I wish we had Easter Monday off, because it's ALWAYS needed. Kite flying is popular around Easter, so it's common to see people flying kites on beaches and other open spaces.
National Heroes Day. April 28. This is a day in honor of ten national heroes in Barbadian history. Statues were enacted in their honor in Heroes Square in Bridgetown. Each of these heroes are given the title "The Right Excellent," a moniker worthy of Bill and Ted.
Labour Day. May 1. Labour Day in Barbados is celebrated on the same day Britain and many other countries do. There are programs designed for labor organizations and work developments.
Whit Monday. Varies. Whit Monday is the day after the beginning of Pentecost. Barbados is one of the few countries that declared Whit Monday a public holiday where most businesses are closed for the day. Churches may have services held throughout the day.
Emancipation Day. August 1. This day is in commemoration of the end of slavery. A name that commonly pops up is that of Bussa (one of the ten heroes honored on Heroes Day), a slave who led an uprising that eventually resulted in emancipation. Programs, educational displays, and the Emancipation Day Walk takes place, along with eating African food and other delicacies shared with friends and family.
Kadooment Day. 1st Monday in August. Kadooment Day is the final day of the Crop Over festival. Originally, it was a festival with the idea in mind that at the end of the harvest, a certain amount of the crop was given to the gods. Their hopes of appeasing the gods who would in turn provide good luck and keep evil spirits away. This festival also entails costumes and dancing and music in the streets. Apparently in order to masquerade in the streets, you have to register in a "costume band" and pay to participate. If you aren't registered and dress up anyway, then you can be fined, jailed, or both. (I hope someone can verify this for me; that sounds tough). Now, you can always be a spectator for free. And I like free.
Independence Day. November 30. Barbados became independent of British rule in 1966. They celebrate it with parades and picnics, and in the evening there are fireworks displays. (However, fireworks displays must only be put on by licensed pyrotechnicians.) Flags and national symbols are displayed throughout cities and towns; homes, businesses, and people are decked out in blue and gold.
Christmas Day. December 25. Colorful lights are strung from buildings and decorate the streets and public areas. Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman also makes their appearances around the island (Santa, I understand, but Frosty surprised me, considering I doubt Barbados had ever seen snow.) There are parades that are sponsored where people drive trucks through the streets that are decorated, some with choirs singing carols and such. They do put out poinsettias around this time of year, much like we do in the US. And of course, it's also a time to spend with friends and family, gift-giving, and a lot of savory food.
Boxing Day. December 26. Britain and most of its former British colonies celebrate Boxing Day. (Minus the US. We are also, for some reason, one of the few former British colonies that never jumped on the cricket bandwagon.) Boxing Day is basically a coveted date with you and your credit card, madly grabbing at huge shopping sales like a Lucy in the chocolate factory. It's been likened to the insanity of Black Friday in the US (the day after Thanksgiving and official first day of the Christmas shopping season that I personally liken to French kissing the bubonic plague). For those who aren't insane, Boxing Day is also a popular sports-watching day, including the ever-popular International Triple Crown horseracing event.
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