Saturday, December 13, 2008

Festival of Lights

Today is the Feast of St. Lucia, patron saint of light and seeing. Her story is mixed as are the rituals that accompany the celebration of her day. Here in St. Lucia we celebrate this as our National Day because back when we were "discovered" by the Colonial powers that was the name given our island. There has been much discussion on whether it is relevant or important to keep celebrating this day with a few years going by without a holiday and with little going on otherwise, but perhaps it's proximity to Christmas and it's unofficial status as the start of our Christmas season, we are back in full swing celebrations again.
I think people's favourite part is the Festival of Lights - an evening of cultural performances and the parade of lanterns entered into the Lantern Competition topped off with a fireworks display. True to the Colonial origins of the celebration, this is held in our Nobel Laureate's Square - known to us older folk as "Columbus Square" - marked as the place where Columbus set foot on our shores on his discovery voyage. In those days, before much land reclamation was done, Castries Harbour went all the way to this spot. Well recently, history discovered that Columbus did not actually discover St. Lucia at all, some other sailor guy did, and so we figured it would be better to call this little green patch in our city after people we are sure we can lay some claim to, Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis.
This year a good friend of mine Alcina Nolley pushed our St. Lucia Arts & Crafts Cooperative members to take part in the competition and the results were good -

Alcina, a jewellery artist and painter, won 1st Place Honors in the National Category with her lantern, "Three Luminaries" depicting three of St. Lucia's brightest stars; Sir Arthur Lewis, Sir John Compton and the Honorable Derek Walcott, shining brilliantly on this lantern to inspire everyone who gazes upon it.

Mary Weber also an artist garnered the recognition twice; once for the Best Overall Lantern and secondly as 1st Place Winner in the Original category.
Her lantern, "The Sea", depicted the color and motion of the sea, enhanced with shells fish and
other life from the sea. She used recycled lampshades as her lantern base, emphasizing conservation attitudes we need to foster regarding the sea as well as our precious island, St. Lucia. Not only is it a reminder of the preciousness of the sea, it beautiful to look at.

The St. Lucia Arts and Crafts Co-operative is a non-profit organization whose primary objective is to enhance the productivity of it's members and the art community at large. Their base in St. Lucia is on the first floor of La Place Carenage Duty Free Shopping Centre - if you're in St. Lucia, make sure you check them for gifts - there's lots for visitors and locals alike. And if you visit soon, you'll be able to see these two winning lanterns on display.
More of the creative talent of St. Lucia can be seen at
Happy St. Lucia Day to all, in my opinion, we need all the National pride we can muster wherever it's origins lie - it's up to us to make it ours and make it proud!


  1. A blogger from St. Lucia! I'm actually working on a blog post about my visit to that beautiful island almost three years ago (though, sadly, I didn't get to experience much of the local culture) (and, unfortunately, none of the pics seem to be showing up in this post, so I'm not getting to see the crafts--though the pics in previous posts seem fine--thought I'd letcha know...).

  2. Welcome and thanks for pointing that out - I've replaced them with pics I saved to my laptop - hope they show now...where did you stay in St. Lucia? Look forward to the post...

  3. That's fantastic! These lanterns take the craft to a new level. I encourage you to continue building the arts & crafts industry in SLU.