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What To Do Festivals & Events Nine Mornings

History of Nine Mornings Festival

It is also believed that in the 1920s, a Vincentian member of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church initiated a tradition of celebrating a Christmas novena in the early hours of the morning.

 

It was the procession home after the service, as the churchgoers wandered back to their houses, eagerly greeting friends with holiday blessings and peering in the still-shut shop windows, which developed into today’s celebration.  Soon it became customary for the ‘boom drum’ bands, composed of musicians playing goatskin drums and wooden flutes, to accompany the walkers home.  Street dancing, of course, was soon to follow, and in time, the character of the nine mornings’ celebration changed.  Over the years the number of walkers grew, and with the advent of the steel drum band a carnival-style nine mornings tradition evolved.   Street vendors joined the celebration, selling drinks made from ginger and sorrel as well as holiday cakes and sweets.  A later addition was the tradition of the ‘carolers’ who went house-to-house singing Christmas carols.

Nine mornings was particularly popular with young people for whom the normal restrictions at home were relaxed, giving them an opportunity to socialize with their friends.  At different periods emphasis was placed on different activities.   In the early period, street walking and sea bathing seemed to have predominated.  Over the years other features took root.  In Kingstown, owners of bicycles decorated their bicycles with lights and rode around town.  Persons wanting to get hot bread besieged bakeries around town that were producing bread for the early morning market.  Over time the bakeries catered to this demand.  Dances became popular at other times and recently in Kingstown, concerts involving choirs and individual entertainers have been attracting large crowds.  There are also fun competitions such as speech making, beer drinking and banana eating, crying, laughing, ‘ring play’ games and story telling.  A welcomed addition in recent years is the ‘lighting up’ of towns, villages, commercial buildings, churches and private homes.

The organized activities are relatively new since the traditional practices were totally unorganized.  This Nine Mornings practice is entirely unique to St. Vincent and provides an opportunity for Vincentians to boast about something, which is special to them.  The business sector has always been concerned about the impact of these activities on the productivity of their workers, some of whom on occasion go through the night or in local parlance ‘round the clock’, moving from the late night entertainment spots to the nine mornings entertainment.  They have however, recognized that it is a well-established cultural practice that is deeply rooted.