Known as the spice island, it is not surprising that ‘Spice Mas’ is Grenada’s largest yearly celebration; it is the country’s premier cultural event. ‘Spice Mas’ is a glorious period of festivities that climax during the second Monday and Tuesday in August. Each year, the event boasts several activities that take months of planning and coordination.
Being a Caribbean festival, music is an important part of the celebrations. Calypsonians, steel pan orchestras, beauty contestants, ‘fancy mas’ bands and others perform and parade to compete for Carnival honours. Of course, pageantry and stylish expressions linked to African, French, British and Caribbean heritages are on display. Simply, the festival is colourful, humorous and full of surprises.
Grenadians gather to watch, participate and enjoy. Furthermore, the many visitors are given a feel of Grenadian culture with moving displays by the Shortknee, Wild Indians, May Pole Dancers, Fancy Mas, Steel Bands and Calypsonians. Many take on disguises in the costumes of ‘Shortknee’ and ‘Jab Jab’ players.
Image Credit: http://www.spicemasgrenada.com/ Spice-mas Flyer
‘Shortknee’ and ‘Jab Jab’
The Shortknee tradition combines pieces of distant Grenadian history expressed through masks, dance, chants and colourful costumes. Armoured with tiny mirrors to reflect enemies and ankle bells to make music, masqueraders in knee-length pants carry talc powder as they stomp through towns and villages. The powder is a symbol of appreciation and sprinkled on those who make cash donations.
Image Credit: http://www.spicemasgrenada.com/ Spice-mas Celebrations
Jab Jab revelers paint their bodies black, put red helmets with make-believe horns on their heads, and march in energetic groups. Originating with African and European rituals, Jab Jab has evolved as an integral part of contemporary Spice Mas, shedding long ago customs of frightening Carnival patrons and establishing a unique rhythmic chant to Carnival. All this and more, can be part of your Spice Experience.
As always, Spice-mas promises to be a spectacle this year. The event got off to a rousing start early this month with thousands converging on the Carenage for an attractive display of the various sections of the Summer Festival.
Special emphasis in 2013 is focused on the Steel Bands with the theme, “Deeply Rooted in Our Rich Ancestral Traditions, Sweet Steel Band Music, the Sounds and Rhythms of Our Spice Mas.”Chairman of the Spice Mas Corporation, Arthur Hosten, is heartened by the large turnout to the launch, which he hopes will manifest in more nationals playing mas with the various Fancy Mas Bands and other aspects of the festival. He has appealed for mass participation. “There have been some small Mas bands over the years with less than 100 masqueraders in numbers, we want to see a drastic increase” he said.
While Spice-mas is an important GrenadianFestival, it is not extremely popular. Regardless, provided Grenadians continue to be creative and innovative in the portrayal of their country, Spice-mas will continue to grow and hopefully, will one day become as large as Trinidad’s Carnival or Barbados’s Crop Over.
By: Norvan Martin