Vive La Rose! A Uniquely St. Lucian Festival

One of the very interesting traditional custom that still exist in the Caribbean today is the “La Rose” festival – one of two flower cultural festivals celebrated primarily in rural communities.  Although these groups are ostensibly singing societies dedicated to praising either flower, the societies are intense rivals and their membership includes most of the population of the island.

Preparations for the yearly festivities begin several months before the actual feast day.  Members of the La Rose group hold nightly singing and dancing sessions where drinks are sold and games are played. A special female singer called “chantwelle” is appointed by the group is given the duty to compose and lead all songs to be sung at the festival.

On August 30th, the actual day of the festival, all members of this flower society dress in the finery of their respective roles with the principal persons being magnificently attired.  They march to church for a special service which precedes their parade through the streets before returning to the hall for their feast or “grande fete” and the rest of the evening is spent in folk dancing. The parade is wonderful to watch, colourful, musical and deeply traditional.  Visitors are encouraged to come along, take part in the celebration and join in the fun.