"Nine Mornings" in St. Vincent and the Grenadines: A Unique Festive Tradition
The joyous Christmas season unfolds in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a distinctive and cherished tradition known as “Nine Mornings.” Commencing on December the 16th, and continuing for the following nine days, the festival culminates on Christmas Eve. This celebration is deeply ingrained in Vincentian life and community spirit and is unique to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the pre-dawn hours, both locals and an increasing number of visitors eagerly participate in an array of activities that define the essence of Nine Mornings. The festivities cater to diverse preferences, from invigorating sea bathing to lively fetes, bicycle riding, street concerts, and entertaining eating and drinking competitions. True to the laid-back “Vincy” style, some participants simply wake up to “lime.” In rural villages, the grand finale unfolds with a steel band carnival-like “jump-up,” bringing communities together in joyous celebration.
The roots of Nine Mornings trace back to around 1913 when a Vincentian member of the Dominican Order initiated early morning services to celebrate the Christmas Novena in the nine mornings leading up to Christmas. Post-church gatherings evolved into beach visits, window shopping, and the exchange of festive greetings. Soon, the sounds of boom drum bands, sorrel beer, ginger beer (with a notable emphasis on beer), Christmas sweets, and decorated bicycles joined the mix. Over time, fetes, laughing and crying competitions, and the now highly anticipated village lighting competitions became integral to the celebration.
The decentralized nature of Nine Mornings ensures a rich tapestry of experiences and activities that vary from community to community. Skits, dramatizations, netball, football, or cricket competitions unfold on community hardcourts, providing an eclectic range of entertainment for participants and spectators alike.
As St. Vincent and the Grenadines prepare for another enchanting Nine Mornings celebration, locals and visitors eagerly anticipate the unique blend of community, culture, and festive spirit that makes this tradition an extraordinary part of the holiday season.