Festival Fever: History of Crop Over4th July, 2014
It's Festival Fever time so we are starting off talking a little bit about the history of cropover, one of the Western World's oldest festivals. The Tradition of Crop Over, originally known as "harvest home" began in 1688 during the colonial period on sugar plantations. The festival commenced as the people of the island at the time wanted to celebrate the official end of the sugar cane harvest. They did just that by singing, dancing, eating and drinking. All of this of course was accompanied by shak shaks, banjos, trianagles, fiddles, guitars and bones. Other unusual traditions included climbing a greased pole (this still occurs at Oistins) and feasting and drinking competitions. The mark of the whole event was the last parade of cane carts which where elaboratly decorated and accomodated a laborer who would beat a gong and declare "Crop Over".
The food which was devoured by the workers form the base of our Barbadian cuisine today and included such items as meat stews, pudding and souse, roast pork, peas and rice, coconut bread and pone. Along with the food came the entertainment such as the 'tuk band', shaggy bear, mother sally, donkey man and the stilt walkers. The finale of the original festival was the burning of Mr. Harding Effigy. This was done to symbolize the hope the the times to come would not be too hard.