Essay - Trinidad Carnival John S.) Trinidad Carnival: the Greatest Show on...

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Trinidad Carnival

John S.)

Trinidad *****:

The Greatest Show on Earth

***** Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, celebrated the week before Ashe Wednesday every year, is among the largest and most popular in the world. Accord*****g to the Trinidad and Tobago official website, this annual event is unrivaled in the *****. "There is no experience on earth ***** compare with ***** Carnival, the oldest and greatest of them all, the mother ***** ***** Carnivals, often imitated, never equaled" (Trinidad & Tobago Official Website). It would be hard to argue with that. Out of a population of a little over one million, ***** 100,000 p*****rticipants dress up in masquerades, "singing, dancing, and miming" thus keeping the tradition going strong through to the present day (Hill 3). Rich in history and a reflection of its history, the Carnival cont*****ues to evolve to ***** present ***** with such additions as Peter Minshall's dancing mobiles. A symbol of freedom, and a celebration of freedom from slavery, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnivals are significant to isl***** ***** a celebration ***** freedom ***** is deeply rooted in the culture of the nation, however Carnival is not merely a celebration but also an outlet for commentary on ***** important *****sues affect*****g Trinidad.

Trinidad's history has had a great influence on ***** Carnival, as the influence of ***** through the *****s has continuously shaped the Carnival. Trinidad was discovered by Columbus in 1498 and ruled by Spain for ********** years as an extremely "underdeveloped" possession (Cowley 9). In the late 18th century, Charles III decided to "rejuvenate" the colonies and invited Catholics to settle the colony resulting in French planters bringing slaves to work on new estates (Cowley 9). This policy, enacted in 1783, helped ***** ********** the small population ***** the islands, yet the island remained sparsely populated, but this did help to entrench a French ***** in Tr*****idad (Cowley 1985). The ***** held "elaborate masked balls" and despite ***** British takeover in 1797, the French culture remained dominant (Gilkes 2003). This French culture was the result of the slaves being born in French ***** ***** having a combination ***** an African, *****, and Caribbean amalgam of culture was not diluted with the arrival of new ***** ***** Africa (Cowley 10). These developments beginning in 1783 marked "a development of ***** consequence in the history of ***** island and to the institution ***** carnival" as the his*****rical development set ***** stage for the creation of Carnival in Trinidad (Hill 7).

As ***** began to develop as a multicultural island, the social conditions behind the population growth ***** influence ***** origins of Carnival. As tight regulations kept social and racial cl*****ses separate, those of ***** descent would create a p*****rallel society that reflected the culture of the white elite class (Cowley 11). Africans would use celebrations ***** express discontent with social divisions, an example being the Sh***** Estate Revolt of Christmas 1805 as festivals during holidays would be an opportunity for cultural *****d political expression. The most ***** event,


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