ABOUT CARIBMASK CARNIVAL
In 2012, RDACA (Raleigh-Durham AfroCaribbean Association) came together to promote diversity, equality and create a deeper appreciation for Afro-Caribbean culture among the citizens of the Raleigh/Durham Metropolitan area. With this shared vision, RDACA gave birth to CaribMask. Impacted by the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, we embarked on an unknown journey that affected our lives and caused everything to shut down. With no social interaction or outlet, we had to find creative ways to entertain and have fun. We have since learned how to cautiously navigate during this unprecedented time. Wearing masks and practicing sanitization routines has helped to lessen the spread of this disease. We are now moving into a new normal, and plan to adhere to all state guidelines ensuring everyone’s safety. Seeking to unite and excite the people once again, RDACA will present the 10th Annual CaribMask Carnival on August 19, 2023. The streets of downtown Raleigh will once again set ablaze. The day will begin with the Parade of Bands. Troupes/bands will parade down the streets in elaborate costumes jamming to the tunes from their native lands. The Grand Marshall, Children and adults- by foot, truck, and motorcycle- tramp down and get down for over two hours on the parade route. The 10th Annual Flag Ceremony will represent over 15 countries and is a crowd favorite. The people in attendance will have an opportunity to experience more vendors than the previous year; food and artisan included. The main stage will once again electrify the crowd with performers from all over including Destra Garcia, Ricky T, Nessa Preppy and more. As we enter CaribMask 2023, we plan to make this our best year so far. Look out for great acts, beautiful costumes and tasteful, cultural foods.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CARNIVAL
Carnival in the Caribbean has a complicated birthright: It's tied to colonialism, religious conversion, and ultimately freedom and celebration. The festival originated with Italian Catholics in Europe, and it later spread to the French and Spanish, who brought the pre-Lenten tradition with them when they settled (and brought slaves to) Trinidad, Dominica, Haiti, Martinique, and other Caribbean islands.
The word "Carnival" itself is thought to mean "farewell to meat" or "farewell to flesh," the former referencing the Catholic practice of abstaining from red meat from Ash Wednesday until Easter. The latter explanation, while possibly apocryphal, is said to be emblematic of the sensuous abandon that came to define the Caribbean celebration of the holiday.
Historians say they believe the first "modern" Caribbean Carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the late 18th century when a flood of French settlers brought the Fat Tuesday masquerade party tradition with them to the island, although Fat Tuesday celebrations were almost certainly taking place at least a century before that.
By the beginning of the 18th century, there were already a large number of free blacks in Trinidad mixed with French immigrants, earlier Spanish settlers, and British nationals (the island came under British control in 1797). This resulted in Carnival's transformation from an implanted European celebration to a more heterogeneous cultural froth that includes traditions from all ethnic groups contributing to the celebration. With the end of slavery in 1834, the now completely free populace could outwardly celebrate their native culture and their emancipation through dress, music, and dancing.
These three elements—dressing in masquerade, music, and dancing—remain central to Carnival celebrations. It happens at elaborate balls (the European tradition) and in the streets (the African tradition), with costumes, masks, feathers, headdresses, dancing, music, steel bands, and drums all part of the scene, along with raucous behavior.