Grenada’s Spicemas Carnival

Grenada’s Spicemas Carnival

Celebrating the many faces of culture within this Caribbean country.

Every year, from July to mid-August, the country of Grenada celebrates its largest cultural event, the Spicemas Carnival.  It happens in many cities throughout the country, but the biggest is the main event in St. George’s, the capital.  It takes place as part of the general Grenada carnival season and is put on to celebrate the country’s independence, gained in 1974.


Many people came together over the centuries to make Grenada the place that it has become.  French, African, British and native indigenous people all brought their traditions and combined them into what visitors see 

today.  To show people the essence of the country’s culture, organizers plan for months in order to make sure that they get everything right and put on the best performances they possibly can.

By far the main elements of the Spicemas Carnival are the parades.  People dress in colorful costumes and masks and dance and sing their way through the streets.  As the event evolved, two main traditions have emerged - the Shortknees and the Jab Jab.  The former consists of people wearing ankle bells and carrying tiny mirrors and talc powder.  The mirrors are supposed to reflect back the evil intent of their enemies while the powder is to bless those who offer up donations to the group.  The latter group, the Jab Jab, paint their bodies black and wear red helmets with false horns, representing a more sinister aspect.

In addition to the parades, there is plenty of music in several different traditional styles, with many bands competing to see which is the best.  There is a beauty pageant known as the National Carnival Queen Show, in which ladies dress in costume and fancy dress to compete.  There are also many events specifically for children and those that involve performances by the children of Grenada.  And, of course, there is plenty of delicious regional food and drink to partake of.

Spicemas is a near-constant stream of parades and costumes set to music.  It’s a great way to see Grenada if this country happens to be on your vacation list or if you happen to be cruising around the Caribbean some time.