The Gras Days of Carnival
On several occasions, the Martinican Carnival has undergone eclipses: after the catastrophe of Mont Pelé, in the war 14-18, at the time of the colonial exhibition where many elements dealing particularly with folklore had to go and represent Martinique at this same exhibition, finally at the time of the war 39-45.
Burlesque weddings on Gras Monday The theme is still that of poorly matched couples, whose brides who failed before marriage, who celebrate Easter before Lent, support an advanced pregnancy. She is however in white with veil and wreath of orange blossoms, despite her enormous belly and the manifestations of an imminent childbirth. In this ridiculous couple, it is generally a man disguised as a woman who plays the role of the bride, while a very petite girl, dressed as a man, represents the groom. A long procession follows the couple who, along the way, meet the registrar who unites them and the priest who blesses them.
Mardi Gras It’s the feast of the red devils, everyone is dressed in red, both the spectators and the carnivalists. The big parade of the South is organized on Fat Tuesday all the municipalities of the South, in turn organize this event which attracts several thousand people from all over Martinique.
Mercredi des Cendres The idea of maleficence is not, a priori, attached to VAVAL. Rather, he would be a sort of Pagan god, an emulator of Bacchus who periodically organizes celebrations, even if it means withdrawing, his ephemeral sojourn gone. Respectful of traditions, he sacrifices himself and hereditarily accepts his death at the stake to resuscitate the following year. Thus he bows before Lent, which is a necessary time of penance. The guiablesses moreover, if they mourn the death of VAVAL and beg him to remain among them, do not show any feeling of revolt. On the contrary, they show great resignation and, with Vaval gone, they conform to the rules of the game. From eleven o’clock, from all the ways that lead to the city and starting from the surrounding hills, a real black and white tide of devils breaks, who sing, dance and gesticulate. They drag, in the hellish noise of old chamber pots, empty cans, old disemboweled buckets, linked to their size, by a long string. They meet, are taken by the waist, by the arm or by the neck, thus forming long human theories which swing from front to back, or from left to right, dancing, “gesturing and singing loudly.
Little by little, the flood of devils flows. Soon the place is empty. But tonight, until midnight, we will find the devils in all the places where we dance and they will dance non-stop, without respite.