The official end of a calendar year which signals the start of yet another, provides an opportunity for reflection, an outpouring of gratitude and a purposeful commitment for renewal. It seems only natural then that the month of December would be associated with celebration and feasting.
The December festivals are a series of traditional and historical festivals which bring Saint Lucians together in the spirit of community through artistic creativity with the use of light – a symbol of rebirth. Saint Lucia’s National Day, or Saint Lucy’s Day – the feast day of the patron saint of
light – is celebrated on December 13. The December festivals with their collective theme of devotion and celebration are a precursor to this major feast. Today, the December festivals are an eclectic mix of Saint Lucian culture that merges into a spirit-filled contemporary celebration of the Christmas Season. The three major events of the December festivals are:
• The Lantern Festival – an inventive and competitive showcase of lantern-making where youth, adults, artists, families and schools test their creative skills. Around this time, in years gone by, families would hang lanterns out in their balconies in honour of the patron saint. The festival keeps this tradition alive through the display of hand-crafted lanterns.
• The Festival of Carols – a captivating performance of master choirs and vocalists from around Saint Lucia.
• The Festival of Light – an innovative spectacle of lights in the city centre accompanied by the parade of lanterns.
The traditional Lantern Festival – a competition showcasing creativity and innovation – took place at the National Cultural Centre on Saturday December 2, 2017. Pre-judging took place from 11:30 a.m. During this crucial stage of the competition, judges get an opportunity to examine details on the lanterns prior to being lit and displayed on stage. The lanterns are judged and prizes are awarded with special consideration given to the skill level employed in the creations. Results from the lantern competition are announced during the Festival of Light Ceremony.
Music as a form of emotional expression never fails to lift spirits and inspire. Through the Festival of Carols, vocalists, chorales and choirs from around the island, spanning across denominations, congregate and lift their voices in celestial chorus for the creation of a spirit-filled atmosphere.
From 7:30 p.m. on Sunday December 3, the chorale groups/singers performed at the Holy Family Parish, Jacmel. Performers included Tricia baptiste, the Ave Maria Girls’ Schools Choir, Chosen Stones: Builders of Christ Youth Group, Isman Lovence featuring Natanni St. Omer and Sadia Chandler (saxophone and dance rendition), Evergreen Choir, Laborie Catholic Youth Choir, Bexon Youth and Adult Choirs, Kristian Lawrence, JUSTUS, New Harvest, Cecilian Rays and Saint Anne Choir. The festival was a well-run event with impressive performances from the aforementioned individuals and groups who came from around the island to participate in the annual event, under the distinguished patronage of Her Excellency Dame Pearlette Louisy.
Throughout human history, light has always been used as a metaphor for progression toward the attainment of knowledge and as a symbol of rebirth and hope. The Festival of Light on Tuesday December 12 celebrates the close of a year with a spirit of gratitude for the blessings of the past and a hopeful heart of “goodwill and prosperity” for the year ahead. This year, the evening’s production will centre around the theme “Celebrating a Community Christmas – The Light we share”.
The festivities will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a street parade, starting at the Castries City Hall on Peynier Street. A procession of masqueraders, fire-eaters and lantern bearers will be led to the Derek Walcott Square. This year, for the first time, bikers will join the parade prior to the themed concert which will incorporate music, dancing, drama and lights. The anticipated “switching on of the lights” will close the concert, followed by a celebratory fireworks display.