July 9, 2014

1137 GRENADA - The carnival in Island of Spice

Located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, and known as the Island of Spice, Grenada, a former colony of Britain and France, was built on the labour of enslaved Africans, so the vast majority of the population are of African descent (about 90%), and its culture is a combination of French and African cultures. For Christians, Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent (the word "carnival" comes from the Latin carne levare - farewell to meat). In colonies, the slaves were left out of their owners' fun and fanfare, so they organized their own parties, puting together costumes with what little they had. Grenada's Carnival (Spice Mas) has been celebrated on the island since the Europeans occupied it, each year before Lent, but because since 1975 in february is also celebrated the independence, it was moved several times, until it came to be celebrated in August (for 2014 it starts on the 10th of August and ends on the 14th). After months of preparation, there are many events to attend at the National Stadium: the National Queen show, the SMC/LIME Soca Monarch Competition, the Panorama Night of Pan and Soca. The pre-Carnival festivities culminates with Dimanche Gras. After four days of music and competition, the party is ready to get started with the three main events of Spice Mas.

J’Ouvert begins in the early hours of Monday morning, before sunrise, the time that the devils of the night come out to play. Street theater-in-motion, J’Ouvert combines Grenadian, African, European history and expresses it through dance, masks, costumes, and chants. The Jab Jab dancers (Jab Jab comes from "diable", the French for devil) take either the traditional costume of being painted in molasses, motor oil, grease creosote or mud, or the modern one of  being coated in bright colors. The dancers wear horned helmets and make their way through the streets dancing to the Ole Mas band’s music, spreading their colors onto bystanders as they go.

Pageant Mas, also known as Fancy Mas. Each Parish has its own style of traditional Mas including Short Knees, Vekou, and Wild Indians. The most prevalent style band of the three, the costumes of Short Knees are armored with tiny mirrors to reflect enemies, and they wear ankle bells to make music. Wearing knee-length pants, Arab-like head coverings, batwing sleeves and jumbo collars, the Short Knees carry talc powder as a symbol of appreciation, sprinkling it on those who don't make cash donations. Following the traditional Mas bands come the modern parade of costumed bands, dressed in dazzlingly glitzy costume as they march across the stage of the National Stadium and down the streets of St. George’s. Dancing to popular calypso music, participants sway and shake to the beat.

Monday Night Mas - The parades turn into a party during the Street Jump-Up of Monday Night Mas, during which limers (partiers) mingle in brightly colored clothing, waving glowsticks and dancing through the streets.

After a long day (and night) of celebrating, Tuesday’s festivities start much later in the day to give participants a chance to recover. Tuesday’s Mas includes the parade of bands through the streets of St. George’s, followed by one last jump-up with street bands to cap off the event.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series of 12 stamps depicting parrots, issued on October 21, 2013. 

Grenada Carnival 2014 -  official website of Grenada Info and Activities
Grenada Carnival Action - Trini Jungle Juice
Spice Mas: A Grenadian Carnival Celebration - laluna.com

Sender: Britney
sent from St. George's (Grenada), on 23.06.2014


  1. Nice postcard:-)
    Want you swap a card with me? I can send you postcard from Poland according to your preference. If you are interesting, send me message: wiolkatee@gmail.com

  2. Small world - I swapped the same postcard with Britney in the Spring :)