Barbados: Kadooment Day

Kadooment Day is one of the public holidays in the country of Barbados and it is celebrated every first Monday of August. The holiday marks the finale of the six-week-long Crop Over festival and it is one of the most fun, energetic, and colorful parties of the Caribbean carnivals. But what exactly is Kadooment day and how did it start? Let’s get to know more about this festive holiday.

History of Kadooment Day

Kadooment Day or also known as Crop Over is a traditional harvest festival in Barbados. It began on the sugar cane plantations during slavery in 1687 and it has been celebrated for more than two hundred years. Sugar canes were first introduced to Barbados in the latter part of the 17th century and since then, Barbados has been one of the world’s largest sugar producers. That’s why they needed a larger workforce and that meant having indentured servants and slaves from Africa. The workers are also the ones responsible for bringing the traditional harvest festival of Crop Over from Africa to Barbados. Since then, the festival signaled the end of the sugar cane harvest and it has grown into the country’s largest national festival. Kadooment day is a festival that lasts for six weeks and from May and ends with a blast in the Grand Kadooment which is typically held during the first Monday of August.

Kadooment day featured fun festivities such as dancing and singing that was accompanied by banjos, guitars, bottles filled with water, bones, and shak-shak. Other traditions had climbing greased poles and eating and drinking competitions. The Kadooment Day or Crop Over signals the end of the yearly sugar cane harvest and from there, it has evolved into Barbados’ largest, grandest, and colorful festival that can be compared to the Carnival in Trinidad and Brazil.

But World War II badly affected the country of Barbados which resulted in the festival’s disbandment. However, it was revived in 1974 by local stakeholders namely Flora Spencer, Livvy Burrows, Emile, Straker, and Julian Marryshow along with the Barbados Tourist Band. But the reborn of the Kadooment day saw gradual changes and it became somewhat similar to the Trinidad Carnival. The Crop Over or the Kadooment day begins in June until the first Monday of August where it held its ultimate finale, The Grand Kadooment.

You read that right, it is from June to the first Monday of August. It lasts for two entire months. That is two months of parties and festivals. The festival includes the Calypso competition, Calypso music that originated in Trinidad, the music uses tropical lyrics and syncopated rhythms, and Calypso tents which also originated in Trinidad, it features a squad of calypsonians that performs social commentaries on the happenings of the past year. There are also food stalls, craft makers, street parties, and parades every week that are supported by daily events held at Tim’s on the Highway which is the new home of the Barbados Crop Over Festival.

There are other Caribbean countries that hold carnivals at the same time of the year just like the Kadooment and they are mostly a mix of European pre-lent carnivals like Mardi Gras and J’Ouvert. But Kadooment Day or Crop Over Day does not contain any religious elements from these carnivals.