If you ask any Saint Lucian what their favourite time of year is, chances are the answer will be ‘Jounen Kwéyòl’. Celebrated this year on October 29, Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations are an expression of Saint Lucian heritage. This is a chance to bask in our traditions: the food, the music, the folklore and the dress. Locals, as well as visitors, can expect to enjoy foods like pigtail or chicken bouillon, accra, smoked herring, breadnuts, roasted bakes and salt fish, and cocoa tea.
Jounen Kwéyòl festivities have taken place since 1984, and the selected locations for this year are Babonneau in the north, Dennery in the east, Vieux Fort in the south and Marigot in the west. Each location will feature food, entertainment and music, and large crowds trying to get in on the cuisine and the general ambiance of it all.
This year, Jounen Kwéyòl seems to be very much alive, with the entire month of October filled with anticipation for the last Sunday of that month.
Groups of friends are known to organise round-the-island trips and stop at every location. Fabric stores are never short of clientele as persons come to pick and choose which madras pattern will go best with the clothing style they envisioned. Artisans, too, contribute to the obvious presence of the festive atmosphere by selling brooches, ribbons and other accessories made from madras.
In some ways Jounen Kwéyòl may have strayed from being deep-set in tradition and folklore, and become centred on popular culture. Indeed, more focus is placed on what outfit to have made, rather than wearing a wob dwiyet, and what new ingredients can be added to traditional dishes rather than sticking to the norm. This is simply the evolution of our culture. The younger generation is merely adapting the age-old practices to fit the society that exists in 2017. Some of these adaptations are especially seen in the music of the younger generation – kuduro and other creole-oriented lyrics.
It is difficult to accept that Jounen Kwéyòl is dead, as some might suggest. Traditional creole breakfasts remain something to look forward to. Local business places and schools cater to their customers, staff and students. Massy stores, LUCELEC and others advertised breakfast for customers on Friday October 27. On social media the excitement was palpable, with persons sharing pictures of their food, and plans for the creole weekend.
For the sceptics and believers of the death of our much loved Jounen Kwéyòl, they must remember: Jounen Kwéyòl pa sa janmen mò! (Jounen kwéyòl can never die!)