August festivals: Barbados’s Crop Over Festival

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By Karen Hart

Make coffee-can stilts to link with a Caribbean festival.

The origins of the festival of ‘Crop Over’ are mixed, evolving from old Barbadian Folk Festivals, which in turn, evolved from English and West African harvest festivals.

Crop Over dates right back to the 1780s’, traditionally celebrated the end of the sugar cane harvest – a period of back-breaking work in the field. It was an event marked by the arrival of the last carts carrying the sugar canes, and was celebrated with dancing and fun. The very last cart would carry an effigy of ‘Mr Harding’, made from scraps of cane stuffed into an old coat, a pair of trousers and a top hat. Mr Harding was a traditional symbol of the period between sugar crops when, employment being scarce and money in short supply, the time became known as ‘Hard Time’.

Stilt walkers
Photo from David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

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