Jounen Kweyol also known in English as Creole day, is the day we celebrate our Creole heritage.
As you may know, St Lucia is bi-lingual, which means we speak two languages. Although the general population speaks English (our official language) as their first language, the majority of the older folks speak kweyol or what you may hear some refer to as patois.
The reason why St Lucia has a Creole heritage is because it was fought over by the British and French, making it colonies of the British and French seven times each, finally making it a colony of the British. Because of the influence of both parties, a dialect evolved into a whole new language which became widely spoken.
The month of October was set aside as Creole heritage month from 1984, a few years after St Lucia became independent from the British in 1979,
Every year on the last Sunday in the month of October, Jounen Kweyol is observed. Those activities bring to life the St Lucia culture all those things that happened in the past.
You will get to see men displaying how they used to saw wood, the making of Creole bread using wood to heat the oven, making of cassava bread, bakes and fish cakes made out of Cray fish, the making of certain tantalizing dishes that were prepared long ago that has lose its popularity in recent times; crab callaloo, pemie, roasted sardines eaten with breadfruit, and more
The national dress(the madras, a plaid like material) is normally worn around that time of the year in honor of our creole heritage.
You will also find all schools taking part in the festivity, hosting shows and speaking Creole only for the day.
Great effort is placed into the festival every year and you can see the enthusiasm and passion for it in the Folk Research Center Director.
Creole Heritage month is always celebrated in October with Jounen Kweyol being the highlighted activity the closest day to the 28th of that month.
If you are in St Lucia, you should not let an opportunity like that pass you by. Drive around the country, see and learn what St Lucia's heritage is all about first hand.
It is customary to host the festival in four parts of Saint Lucia making it more possible for everyone to enjoy. Every year the Folk Research Center of St. Lucia selects the communities to host the various activities for Creole Heritage Month.
In 2010, all was set and ready to go but the festival had to be cancelled due to the passage of hurricane Tomas.
Hurricane Tomas dealt St Lucia a heavy blow with gusty winds and heavy rainfall the day before the festival was to occur resulting in destruction all over the island.
This is the first time since the festival began that it was not celebrated.
For 2009 there were three communities hosting the festival in St Lucia. The three communities were selected after months of community mobilization and will be held in the communities of Soufriere, Vieux Fort and Boguis. The community activities took take place on October 25th 2009.
In 2011, the festival was held on Sunday the 30th of October and will be held in the following communities: Laborie, Desruisseaux, Dennery, Anse La Raye and Fond Assau. All communities have been mobilized and are ready to go and is an event that shouldn’t be missed.