Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 3 December 2019 | 0 Comments

The Caribbean is an egg-cellent place to celebrate Easter, so you’ve cracked if you plan to be on palm-trimmed shores this spring.

Every individual Caribbean isle has its own unique way of celebrating Easter. Some are influenced by Spanish Catholic traditions. Others bear the telltale signs Portuguese, Dutch and Indian cultural sway. All mix Christian beliefs, with pagan folklore and sun-filled frivolity.

As the second-biggest religious celebration in the annual calendar, Easter is a big-deal across the Caribbean where a church, chapel or cathedral denotes every village, town and city. Vivid bursts of colour typify each and every Easter celebration in the Caribbean, from the imaginative pepper-scattered fish dishes that grace every table in St Lucia on Good Friday to the posh hats worn to church on Easter Sunday in Jamaica; elaborate tropical floral displays found everywhere in Tobago and Easter lambs that gambol over Barbados’s wild-flower pasture. After the joyous hedonism and revelry of Carnival that signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, Good Friday – the day of Christ’s crucifixion - is a much more solemn affair. Families spend time together, attend Mass and refrain from eating meat: a symbolic act of abstinence in recognition of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Local islanders also stay away from the beach on Good Friday due a Caribbean-wide superstition that to do so brings bad luck. Take a dip at your peril, they warn, as it is sure to see you develop a rainbow of scales and turn into a fish.

By Easter Sunday, events take on a more jubilant air, as Christian believers celebrate the Resurrection. With the Easter weekend falling in the dry season in the Caribbean, the weather is always hot and breezy so after church everyone heads outside to picnic and fly a kite. In the Caribbean, kite-flying is synonymous with Easter with Sunday the day that islanders in Grenada, St Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Antigua unveil their home-spun creations to cheering crowds. By lunchtime the skies are filled with billowing bright-coloured kite designs that range from beautiful to bizarre. Expect anything from butterflies to pug-faced politicians, oversized pop queens and cruel effigies of Judas Iscariot – the villain who betrayed Christ. Families gather to gossip on the beach with the tradition breaking of the egg at precisely midday on Good Friday a popular topic of conversation. The shape of the egg white in a water-filled glass is said to determine your destiny - and everyone enjoys speculating on what the next year holds in terms of love, marriage and wealth. Other Easter superstitions include cutting a knife into the bark of a native tree to purge the crimson sap – a purging ritual in memory of the blood of Jesus. Some folk trap snakes over Easter in order to try to see their feet – though nobody seems to know why! Yet the single shared Easter tradition is food – and plenty of it. Easter dishes include stuffed shrimp, marinated fish with buttered vegetables in Grenada and seasoned lobster with rice and curried mango in St Lucia while in Jamaica local bakers struggle to keep up with the national demand for Bun and Cheese at Easter-time: a sweet, spicy, raisin filled bun cooked with the locally famous Tastee Cheese that is sold packaged in decorative boxes. In Trinidad and Tobago, entire communities spend weeks planning what they are going to wear to church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday – everyone attends in immaculate attire with the women topping off their outfits with grand hats. In Barbados, traditionalists still prefer to dress in black-and-white while in Antigua the Easter holiday is characterised by colourful street parades, sailing and boat racing regattas. Everyone is early welcomed to these family-friendly events – so make an Easter bonnet, fly a kite, go to Sunday Mass, eat well-spiced succulent fish, buy buns from the bakery and crack an egg into a glass of water in the warm islands of the Caribbean. You’re certain to have a cracking Easter!