Top Five Caribbean Kite Flying Traditions around Easter
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Contrary to popular belief, Caribbean kite flying traditions are very alive and making their vibrant presence known throughout the Caribbean
Easter heralds a time of cool Caribbean breezes, sunshine, and lots of unique cultural traditions. One of the most popular Caribbean Easter traditions is kite flying and their respective competitions. Shape, size, construction and technique all play a role in winning a kite flying competition. There is every imaginable shape you can think of from boxes, rectangles, polygons, and quadrilaterals (yes, it’s a mathematical invasion in the sky). Designs include butterflies, birds and super heroes. Some may argue that it is a dying art-form, but there are just as many advocates dedicated to keeping the tradition alive.
Kite-making is an intricate art that takes skill and patience to produce a well-balanced ‘machine.’ A kite has to balance flying steadily in the air without being ‘capped’ (if the kite is lop-sided it continues to spiral and stay on the ground) . Choice of materials like lightweight tissue paper, and cocoyea (thin strips from the coconut tree) form the base for a well constructed kite. Easter is a time to witness the distinct flavor each of the islands bring to this art form. Let’s explore some of these.
Kite Flying is a very popular tradition on the island of Barbados especially around Easter time. In the past, the Garrison Savannah was the venue of choice on Easter Monday for the kite flying competition. Today, one of the more poplar competitions is that hosted by the Rotaract Club of South Barbados . This festival is held at the Weymouth playing field. The competition targets secondary school students and challenges their creativity and tenacity. The winners of the competition earn some well deserved bragging rights and fame for conquering the air with their designs.
In Grenada, many primary schools host kite making workshops in anticipation of the major Kite Flying Festival held on Easter weekend. Easter Monday is the day for the formal Kite competition. Its a joint initiative sponsored by the Youth Development Center, the Minister of Tourism office, and the Republic of China, Taiwan. The competition is normally held on a narrow point of land on the southern end of the island at Fort Jeudy. This location is strategically chosen because the winds from the Atlantic sweep over a narrow isthmus. There is a steep drop over the leeward side, so to be successful, you have to get your kites well up or they can get sucked down into the ocean.* Good Friday is the ideal time for kite flying with family and friends as Akeem as Grenadian urban reggae artiste shows us here.
The St. Ann Kite Festival, is one of the more popular festivals on the island of Jamaica. It is also known as the ‘Jamaica International Kite Festival‘, and features activities for kids and contests for adults during the day. Some of the competitive activities include of course the Kite competition, a dancing competition and also a bun eating competition. There is also a reggae stage show. all these activities have earned this day as the one of the ultimate family fun days on the island. Friends, family and fun are the three main ingredients for this kite festival.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
For those wanting to know more about flying large 12 and 16-foot kites, aka Mad Bulls, Trinidad & Tobago is the homeland for this. These huge ‘flying machines’ usually take flight on Easter Sunday at the Queens Park Savannah where families come out in large numbers for the grand Easter Kite Flying competition. Heavy-weight Mad Bulls require 4 to 10 persons to launch and the anchor person uses specially strong marling (twine) to maintain balance in the sky.
La Vallee Kite Festival is an annual kite flying festival held in the mountains near Jacmel. Unlike the other islands, this festival is normally held in the month of January. An interesting fact about kite flying in Haiti, is that no-one wants to get their kite “aiyoed” a local term meaning, getting your kite cut by other kites while in the air. Competitors are allowed to put “zwill” (razor edged bits) in their kite tails to cut others (out of the competition). Strategy then plays a big part, so you must move away from competitors and from electric wire and trees where kites get stuck!
Kite flying safety tips:
• Never fly kites near utility poles, power lines or aerials.
• Never fly kites in busy streets.
• Never fly a kite near the path of an incoming aircraft.
• Never use metal in your kite.
• Always plan your kite-flying outings away from power lines.