Our Island, Our Culture, Our Heritage

Jounen Kwéyòl, or Creole Day is the time we Saint Lucians celebrate our creole heritage. During the colonial period of the Caribbean, the offspring of European slave owners and their African slaves were called creoles. The ancestry of these people became a mixture of European, African, Amerindian and even Asian blood. The amalgamation of all those separate cultures into one group of people led to the development of a new culture, complete with its own language and customs that has become one of the island’s delightfully defining features.

October: Creole Heritage Month

In Saint Lucia our creole heritage is a mix of African, French and Amerindian culture. Everything from our food, creole language, music, dress and dance has heavy French and African influence. October is Creole Heritage month, with the festival of Jounen Kwéyòl celebrated on the last Sunday of the month. Communities all over the island come together to feast on local dishes like bouillon, breadfruit, saltfish, cassava bread, accra, creole bread, callalou soup, green fig, penmi, cocoa tea . . . Okay, we’re rambling. First held in 1984, Jounen Kwéyòl is a way to preserve and honour our history. People are encouraged to speak the creole language, wear the national dress and show their pride in being Saint Lucian.

Music, Food and Dance

Our local folk music, performed by ‘shak-shak’ bands, fills the air while folk dances, adapted from the European-style quadrille and waltz, are performed. Our colourful national dress, called the Wob Dwiyet, is worn by ladies while the men incorporate the madras material into their outfits. The madras cloth is traditional in former French colonies. Craft stalls demonstrate woodcarving, tool making and food preparation on the traditional-style coal pots.

Jounen Kwéyòl is a time when the nation comes alive and the old ways are commemorated. So if you’re on the island on October 30th this year, join us in any of the towns and villages selected to host Jounen Kwéyòl and experience and celebrate the heart and of our country and our legacy.

Saint Lucia National Dress - Wob Dwiyet

The Wob Dwiyet, our national dress, is worn by women and has five pieces: a white, cotton, broderie anglaise blouse (chimiz decolté) and ankle length skirt (jip) interlaced with red ribbon; a shorter outer skirt and headpiece made from madras fabric; finally, a triangular satin scarf draped over the left shoulder with the two ends tucked into the skirt. Ladies often choose to embellish their outfit with large gold earrings and strands of pearls.

The headpiece or tèt anlè is created from a square piece of cloth and intricately folded to create peaks which have great significance to the woman’s marital status:

  • One peak – I’m single
  • Two peaks – I’m married
  • Three peaks – I’m widowed or divorced
  • Four peaks – I accept everyone who tries!