St Lucia Culture
The people of St Lucia are generally laid back and friendly. The St Lucia Culture is influenced by a mixture of English, Caribbean and African flavor, however, culturally, St Lucia has a great deal of French influence. The majority of the St Lucians speak a Creole type language known as Kweyol, which is similar to French, and in some areas, people – particularly the older generation tend to struggle with English. There are special radio programmes and news programmes which are broadcast entirely in Kweyol.
The architecture features a French provincial style, many of the place names are French and around 70% of the population are Roman Catholic. The Catholic cathedral in Castries is of French design with an African inspired interior. The African heritage of St Lucia can be seen in the many traditional customs and superstitions that still survive, such as Obeah (voodoo) and the local Snakeman who is visited by locals seeking his medicinal powers.
Music has a French influence on the St Lucia Culture too. Whilst reggae and calypso are very much enjoyed, zouk and cadance are also prominent musical styles.
The influence of the English can be seen in the political, legal and educational systems and of course the St Lucian love for cricket.
There is a strong Rastafarian movement on the island which has become much more political in recent years and is tending to influence the St Lucia Culture more and more.
The people of St Lucia are known for their love of literature and as an art form it has contributed greatly to the St Lucia Culture. The island has produced some notable authors such as Derek Walcott. A renowned poet and playwright, he was born in 1930. His published works include poetry collections, and autobiography in verse, and several plays. He won the 192 Nobel Prize for Literature. A good introduction to his work would be his “Collected Poems, 1948-184″. Other authors include Garth St Omer, Earl Long, Jane King-Hippolyte, Kendal Hippolyte, John Robert Lee and Jacintha Lee.
St Lucia also produces great artists such as Dunstan St Omer, who creates religious paintings, and with his four sons, has painted some of the countryside churches on the island. Llewellyn Xavier is an artist and environmental campaigner whose works reflect his beliefs. Ron Savory, Sean Bonnett St Remy, Winston Branch, Chris Cox, and Alcina Nolley are all well known St Lucian artists.
Food is a big part of the St Lucia Culture, with a wealth of restaurants to choose between. Local produce is used to create wonderful fresh dishes in a Creole style, however, other types of cuisine including French, Italian, Indian and Steakhouse are also represented here. Fish and seafood are plentiful as are a range of tropical fruits. The national dish is Callaloo Soup, which is made from a leafy green vegetable similar to spinach. Other St Lucian specialities include fresh seafood such as lobster, lambi (conch), green figs, saltfish, and fried plantain.
Restaurants can be found in hotels, at malls and in various locations. Recommendations include The Edge in Rodney Bay, Jacques Waterfront Dining in Castries, and Rainforest Hideaway at Marigot Bay.
Celebration is a big part of the St Lucia Culture and the locals celebrate a variety of festivals during the year including religious festivals such as La Rose, which represents the Rosicrucian order, and La Marguerite which represents Freemasonry. Every year on 27th October, Jounen Kweyol (Creole Day) is celebrated. Locals dress in national costume and prepare local food and drink. A different kind of festival is the annual St Lucia Jazz Festival which strongly expresses the St Lucia Culture and reflects the local love of music. Carnival takes place over two days in July and features the election of the carnival Queen, plus parades and street parties. Carnival used to take place around Easter time, but was moved to July in order to attract more visitors.
The St Lucia Culture proves that it is a very diverse nation with much to offer in terms of food, music, art and literature.