Brazil has Carnival, New Orleans has Mardi Gras, but Trinidad has J’ouvert! Down and dirty J’ouvert (more or less French for “daybreak”) is like nothing else. Like many Caribbean traditions, J’ouvert began with slaves trying to make the best of their lot. When their European masters wouldn’t let them attend their gala costume balls, the slaves had their own costume balls, which wasn’t easy when you don’t have access to a lot of costumes.
But they had mud, and they had paint, and they had a PARTY! Smear yourself with mud, or bright paint, and nobody knows who you are, right? Like the other end-of-winter festivals, J’ouvert is followed by a season of celebrating Lent and living life in a much more dignified manner.
Photograph by Tobago_Pictures