The culture of Trinidad and Tobago is very diverse. History shows that these cultures are influenced by Native Caribbean, Indian, African, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arab, and French cultures.
Trinidad was said to have been named by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage. On the morning of 31 July 1498, he saw what appeared to him as “a trinity of hills” along the southeastern coast. The island was as at that time called “Iere”, meaning “the land of the hummingbird,” by its native Amerindian inhabitants. As for Tobago, historians argue that the name probably was derived from tabaco (tobacco in Spanish).
The diversity of the ethnic races found in this holiday destination is reflected in the arts and culture of the beautiful twin-island. A quick glance of the cultural and religious calendar will show just how encompassing and appreciative Trinidad and Tobago culture can be. You can be assured that no cultural aspect or public holiday is mutually exclusive as people from various backgrounds fully participate.
Let’s take a tour of the city where the world go to learn the art of festival.
Indigenous music is a unifying component and here you can find enjoyment of all genres. Trinidad and Tobago is first and foremost the home of calypso and soca. These genres have produced some of the finest bards including world-renowned calypsonians the Mighty Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Lord Kitchener, Chalkdust, Gypsy, Black Stalin among others.
The Carnival which was introduced in Trinidad and Tobago by the French is one of the biggest public celebrations on the island nation. Originally celebrated by the elite class, the practice spread fast into the free population after the abolition of slavery in 1838. Some of the holidays which comes with lots of celebration in Trinidad and Tobago are as follows;
- January 1 New Year’s Day
- 8 February Carnival Monday (unofficial holiday)
- 9 February Carnival Tuesday (unofficial holiday)
- March 30 Spiritual Baptist (Shouter) Liberation
- 25 March Good Friday
- 28 March Easter Monday
- 26 May Corpus Christi
- 30 May Indian Arrival Day
- 19 June Labour Day
- To Be Announced Divali
- To Be Announced Eid-ul-Fitr
- 1 August Emancipation Day
- 31 August Independence Day
- 24 September Republic Day
- 25 December Christmas Day
- 26 December Boxing Day
Cuisine is ethnically marked. A typical Creole dish is stewed chicken, white rice, red beans, fried plantains, and homemade ginger beer. Indian food consists of curried chicken, potatoes, channa (chick peas), white rice, and roti, an Indian flatbread. Chinese food is typically chow mein. However, all of these are simultaneously regarded as national dishes and food metaphors are made to stand for the nation.
Trinidadians are said by Creoles to be ethnically “mixed-up” like callaloo, a kind of soup made from dasheen leaves and containing crab. Crab and dumplings makes the typical Tobago meal.
Marriage practices in Trinidad and Tobago differ according to ethnicity and class. For the middle and upper classes, formal marriage with religious sanction is the norm. Legal recognition for Hindu and Muslim marriages came very late in the colonial period. In the past, East Indian women were betrothed in arranged marriages at pretty young ages.
Inheritance is primarily patrilineal in nature in most communities with the exception of Afro-Trinidadians where gender-based disputes over the inheritance of land are common. Ethnic differences and classes often matter here. Sociability are encouraged but not in business settings.
Education is highly preferred in Trinidad and Tobago. Parents often make sacrifices to give their children access to higher education and white-collar jobs.
In addition indigenes have indirectly and sometimes directly point out that punctuality is not always expected, and habitual lateness is common among the people. Also greeting passers-by is considered to be good manners and is an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago culture.
So, after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end and it has been declared safe to travel, you might want to take a trip to the wonderful world of Trinidad and Tobago. We hope this article gives you an idea of what you’ll likely experience.
Have you visited the festival rich nation? Please share your beautiful experience with us in the comment section.
Ibiene wants you to stay safe.