If you want to look deeper into the culture of people you getting
to know during your Caribbean Holiday visit Tobago during the summer
time and enjoy the island displaying the history its people in an
annual festival that involves not only the capitol of the island,
but villages all over. The culture being
staged during the 14 days event ranges from folkloric shows to the
music that is played on the radio stations. A glimpse of the
strongly held heritage shows in the dramas, oral traditions, songs
and dances that are being showcased during the festivities in the
numerous villages of Tobago. The Heritage Festival takes place
between mid-July and end of July every year and was
first celebrated in 1987.
Old traditions are deeply rooted in people’s harts and still build part of the everyday live in every village. Maybe this is why events are taking place in a different village every day of the Heritage Festival. The villagers of Bethel will usually showcase the traditions associated with birth whereas the village of Whim deals with the wake and bongo held at the home of a dead person.
The folk tales of Tobago hold a lot of myth and these legends are usually performed on stage in Les Coteaux village. But of all the performances you can visit during the Heritage Festival, the Old Time Wedding in Moriah was and remains the most popular reenactment of Tobago's cultural background. The actors are dressed in the fashion of the 18th and 19th century and are attempting to give the hundreds of spectators to this event an insight into the traditions of a wedding in those "good old days".
The men are dressed in black and white three-piece suits, bow ties and black stovepipe hats and white gloves. The women are up in bustle dresses, wear wide-brimmed hats with colorful flowers and as much jewelry as possible. The men have to carry an umbrella to protect their female counterparts from the heat of the sun. One has to assume that this tradition came at least partly from the influence of the European colonial powers that were present in Tobago. Never does one of these old weddings go a "smooth" way. If the groom is not being harassed by one of his old girl friends, their parents might "make noise" over the "left behind" daughter which in many cases would also be pregnant from the groom. Luckily, the brides are never really impressed or affected by the actions and the couple will get married in the end.
from the church all guest of the wedding will dance through the
street after the tunes of the tambrins and fiddlers, looking forward
to the food and speeches that complements the reception of the
wedding. The Heritage Festival culminates in a big final: the old
time Carnival. Mas bands dancing through the streets masqueraded as
sailors, robbers and - during the J'ouvert festivities - as devils.
This Carnival is complimented by the sounds of instruments such as
the steed pan and tamboo bamboo.