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What’s Open & What’s Closed as Virgin Islanders Celebrate Freedom Week?

In 2006, former President George W. Bush signed a proclamation that established the month of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
November 14, 2023
Virgin Islanders Celebrate Freedom Week

This designation remains in effect to this day. A month dedicated to commemorating the achievements of prominent people who were born in the Caribbean, such as Alexander Hamilton, Colin Powell (former Secretary of State), Cicely Tyson, W.E.B. Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier, to name just a few. It is a month set aside to recognize the accomplishments that people born in the Caribbean islands have made to their communities, as well as to the health, prosperity, and overall progress of American civilization. 

Now, as we come to the end of this month dedicated to honoring the history, culture, and achievements of the Caribbean, we find ourselves in the thick of Freedom Week in the Virgin Islands.

St. John’s Carnival has always been held throughout the week preceding up to the Fourth of July. It culminates on July 3 with a late night/early morning parade on the dawn of J’ouvert and continues into the late-night hours of July 4. It is thought that the origins of the J’ouvert celebration may be traced back to the history of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, with its roots deeply ingrained in the French Afro-Creole customs such as Camboulay. 

Emancipation Day

The French expression “jour de pause” translates to “day off,” and the festival itself takes place at various periods of the year, depending on which island you’re on. The custom, however, calls for everyone to take part in a march that lasts from the wee hours of the morning until the sun rises. During this time, participants demonstrate their desire to be liberated from the restrictions of the past by covering themselves in paint, mud, or pitch oil. A commemoration of their ancestors and the trials and tribulations that they suffered in order to ensure the freedom of their children and grandchildren.

Emancipation Day in the Territory is observed on July 3. It commemorates the day in 1848 when enslaved people on St. Croix led by Moses, General Buddhoe Gottlieb, and Admiral Martin King marched into Frederiksted in order to demand their liberation and the freedom of other enslaved Africans. 

They took down the flogging post and threw it into the water before marching into Fort Frederik, where they demanded that Governor-General Peter Von Scholten let them free or they would destroy the town and the rest of the island with fire. Minutes before the deadline, Governor Von Scholten arrived in the Danish West Indies from St. Thomas. He made the following proclamation: “All unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today free,” liberating all enslaved persons in the Danish West Indies from the ties of chattel. – VI.GOV

The Virgin Island’s Observing Freedom Week & Here’s What We Know…

 Virgin Island’s Observing Freedom Week

This week has been designated as Virgin Islands Freedom Week in honour of the impending celebration, as well as in acknowledgment of Virgin Islanders. 

They have fought and overcome adversity to become great successes, as well as the culture and heritage of these magnificent people. In a proclamation made for the holiday week the year before, Governor Bryan said, “I urge all people of the Virgin Islands to take a moment and reflect that had it not been for the brave efforts of our ancestors that came before us, we would have never been able to enjoy and experience the freedoms that we have today, and also to remember our heritage; it is who we are as a people and a culture.” 

If COVID had not been involved, all of us would currently be in the middle of the celebration for our carnival. The limits still provided by this global pandemic may cause our celebrations to take on a little different form this year, but they will continue as planned.

In contrast to previous years, Cruz Bay did not have any flags placed up throughout the town at the beginning of this month. There will be no princess competition in the park. There was no food fair to start off the week of events that took place the week before. On July 4, there will not be any fireworks. On the other hand, on Saturday, we will have the opportunity to experience the much-loved Food Fair in a somewhat different form. One night will be set aside for us to enjoy playing in the redesigned carnival village.

Virgin Islanders COVID update

During the past week, like they do every year during carnival, the Virgin Islands Department of Health has been on the island to check the wearing of masks, compliance with health code standards, and other COVID limitations. During this week of the year, which is so eagerly awaited by everyone, there is a palpable undercurrent of elation and celebration that sweeps across the entire island. And as we go about our slightly altered celebrations, it is essential to keep in mind the reason we are joyful in the first place. It is essential to acknowledge the efforts made by the people of the Virgin Islands, as well as their achievements, as well as the unpretentious elegance and untarnished authenticity of their culture.

Visit the Food Fair at the gravel lot near the Cruz Bay tennis courts on Emancipation Day, July 3, if you are immunized and on the island this week. The holiday celebrates the abolition of slavery in the United States. Pamela Richards, a well-known native of the Virgin Islands and current resident of St. John, as well as Chef Guy Mitchell, a former White House chef and the founder of “White House Chef Tours,” will act as hosts for the Love City Food Fair, which will take place from 11 AM to 4 PM. It is going to be a day packed with delectable treats from over 30 different vendors, all of whom will be reflecting the culinary culture of the Virgin Islands. 

traditional costume

Music will be performed by the Love City Pan Dragons and the Vercytle Band, and additional entertainment will be offered by moko jumbies and dancers in full traditional costume. This is being done in order to better honor the legacy of the Virgin Islands. Heritage and culture of the Virgin Islands are yours to celebrate this weekend! This location has a great deal more to offer than just beaches and happy hours. Do not be scared to delve under the surface and discover more. Please visit the webpage for US Virgin Islands Festivals if you would want additional information regarding the food fair and carnival festivities. You might be interested in learning more about the history and culture of the Virgin Islands in honor of Virgin Islands Freedom Week, which is being observed this week. In honor of our newly won independence, I strongly encourage you to pay a visit to the Danish-West Indies Historical Database or the St. John Historical Society so that you can educate yourself on our region’s rich past.

Browse our list of Kanana Caribbean hot spots and also checkout our news page for more updates.


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