Whether you grew up in the Caribbean, you have roots there, or you just love the vibe, understanding and embracing Caribbean culture is so fulfilling. The variety you can find within the geographically small region can and should blow your mind. The Caribbean began like most places, with the indigenous people. From there it blended African, Indian, European, and Asian cultures to create an extraordinary melting pot of diversity. This created what we know as the Caribbean culture. But what is that really and how can you celebrate and embrace it?
We’ve come up with 5 simple ways to honor the Caribbean in true island spirit.
1. Understand the history
The first thing to know about the Caribbean is that it has many deep histories that led to rich traditions and festivals. From Jamaica, to Dominica, to Antigua, and Barbados, no island is made the same. Each of the 24 countries and territories has a unique blend that makes them who they are. Their traditions, food, clothes, and dialect reflect their individual histories and should be celebrated. This does not negate the unity that is felt throughout the Caribbean that is built from being West Indian. The more you know, the more you can connect and spread that spirit.
2. Feel di riddim
You cannot visit the Caribbean without seeing the importance of music. From dancehall, reggae, soca, calypso, to bouyon, music is deeply rooted in the culture and history of many Caribbean islands. You can hear drums and steel pans playing at festivals, heavy beats playing out of clubs and bars, and bands performing at shows and events, music is a necessary part of everyday life. Try visiting a club or local event to see musicians and dancers up close and personal. Carnival is always a good time to embrace Caribbean culture as locals and tourist come together to party. They often include vibrant costumes, street processions, dance competitions and happen once a year. Each island boasts parties that will change your summer, if not your life. If you have not experienced this, it is time to book a trip.
3. Cook the food
The rich flavors of the Caribbean deserve every bit of respect they demand. Although the specific names of dishes and methods of preparation vary from island to island. All islands indulge in soft fried breads, provisions, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Nowhere will you find a mango as good as in the West Indies or bakes as fresh. Ackee and saltfish, curry goat, callaloo, rice and peas, doubles, plantains, dashin, and so much more. If you are living abroad, find a recipe that fits your island and bring the food to your home. Everyone loves a West Indian dinner!
As Captain Jack Sparrow famously put it, “Why is the rum always gone?” The Caribbean is not the Caribbean without the drinks. It is not just the alcohol though. A nice glass of sorrel or some peanut punch can make any mouth water. No adventure is complete until you have had a glass of rum punch, a strong fruity drink that hits just the right spot. So, grab a Carib, a glass of Captain Morgan, or a refreshing sorrel and embrace the vibe.
5. Learn from Caribbean authors.
A great way to embrace and celebrate Caribbean culture is to learn about it from authors that have taken the time to educate people on it. Incorporate these books into your personal life, your children’s lives, your classroom, or office. Share the stories of these authors over and over so that everyone has a chance to celebrate the West Indies. Here are a few books and authors you should definitely check out:
- Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat
- The girl with the Hazel Eyes by Callie Browning
- How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
- Augustown: A Novel by Kei Miller
No matter where you are in the world, you can embrace Caribbean culture right where you are. Let us know, how do you embrace Caribbean culture? What dishes do you like to make? What authors do you read?
Remember our home is always open, one love.