The Labor Day carnival is also referred to as the Labor Day parade or the West Indian Carnival. It offers an extravagant fusion of costumes, cultures, music, and food. This annual celebration takes place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City. The date of these festivities coincides with the commemoration of the American Labor Day that is on the first Monday every September.
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The festival attracts a crowd of three million people both participants and spectators for its numerous events. Besides, the main attraction is the parade along the Eastern Parkway that has made this festival so popular.
The parade consists of thousands of people dressed in elaborate, creative and rainbow colored costumes specially made for this day. It should also be mentioned that the celebration is a multicultural affair involving people from South America, Central America and the Caribbean islands.
The participating countries include Guyana and Suriname from South America, Belize in Central America, the Caribbean states of Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago and many others (WIADCA).
The event started as an indoor event that saw Ms. Jessie Wadell and her friends dressed up in the elaborate costumes to dance to diverse music. It has evolved from the 1950s to become a major celebration of culture in New York City. Other events during the carnival include pageants, j’ouvert, after-parade party and also a savory display of cultural dishes for the participants.
The first information on the Labor Day carnival that is known was printed in the Souvenir Journal for West Indies, thus being an advertisement of the first ever West Indies carnival. The popularity of the event and growing fan base have necessitated the organizers to move the event outdoors to accommodate the rapidly growing number of people and activities.
The festival lasts several days but the final day usually starts at “j’ouvert”, which means a day-break in French. This ritual commences on the final day and is followed by kid events such as mini parades and other fun activities for children.
The main event is the parade along the Eastern Parkway and is the highlight of the day that ends at exactly six in the evening. This is followed by the after-parade party where various bands play cultural music. The delicacies served on this day have no specific time; the spicy finger food is available throughout the day.
It is worth noting that the Labor Day carnival has greatly influenced the popular culture musically and has been mentioned in Calypso and Soca music from Trinidad and most recently in Jay-Z’s song “Empire state of mind” (Flower).
Despite being a major success, the carnival has had its share of flaws because of the violence that took place. The shootings, stabbing and stampede experienced during these festivities have led to the cancellation of several celebrations but the organizers are ardent in ensuring that the event goes in without such hitches.
Historical significance of the event to the people
The West Indies carnival has its history intertwined with the French colonization of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It was considered an upper class event that saw the rich dress up in garments that mocked the misery of the slave life.
Furthermore, the slaves were not allowed to take part in it and watched from afar with the only duty to occasionally put out the cane field fire set by the rich during the parade. After their liberation from slavery, they decided to carry on with this tradition and add their own traditions to the fete such as stick fighting and drums.
This was in a bid to exercise their newfound freedom and in return they mocked their former owners and wore masks. The migration of the Caribbean people to America brought the festivities with them to the states. They held carnivals because they were homesick and needed to feel at home.
The carnival is a celebration of the West Indies people for their liberation from the colonialists and the installation of a new culture they acquired from the French. The adoption of these festivities by the Caribbean American in New York is a growth of cultural interactions in a foreign land.
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The fact that they are allowed to hold parades and cultural parties shows the willingness of the Caribbean Americans and American citizens to live together in harmony. The negative bits from the carnival such as violence, crime and sexual assault can be attributed to clash of different cultures (French).
Since not everyone at the festival is aware that the costumes are a means of self-expression rather than an invitation of assault by the semi naked dressing. The carnival tradition represents societal growth from being colonies to their liberation moment, and finally the spread of this unifying culture to foreign lands.
The best part is the fact that this tradition takes root in a foreign land and grows with the people. The institution of this culture on the national calendar is a milestone in cultural maturity. The event is not originally American but they have adopted it from the Caribbean Americans to show acceptance and involve them in parties.
The diversity of the American experience as it has occurred in, and affected NEW YORK ethnic, racial, religious, regional, gender, or occupation
This event brings together people mainly drawn from the Caribbean islands of Saint Vincent, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. They are from varied ethnic backgrounds but the citizens of the United States of America. Although many would consider them foreigners, these immigrants are from very different backgrounds.
The festival also unites different religions since the event is not for a specific religion and the non restriction provides a chance for them to interact without the barrier caused by their faith. The celebrations are open to both genders as there are no reservations for a particular gender and everyone takes part in any activity they desire.
For instance, there is a photograph showing a man adorned in a colorful costume ready for the parade. Many cultures reserve dressing up for functions to the female gender only. However, this function clearly shows the inhibitions offered here.
The event is a whole family affair involving mothers, fathers, and children. Apart from individuals from the West Indies, the festival has people from Central and South America too (MaCallister).
The Labor Day carnival is a multicultural event that brings together various cultures from the Central and South America and also the participants from the diverse Caribbean islands.
These festivities bring together people of different backgrounds for a common purpose to learn from each other and appreciate various cultures there. The parade sees a colorful display of flags from different nations like Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and Grenada, which is a sign of togetherness in the American state and the multitude drawn from different origins.
The present crowd is treated to a lavish array of recipes from the Caribbean cuisine and a fusion of other dishes from the diverse American society such as variations of the Italian and Spanish foods from the Central America. They share a feast made by different people and in unity learn what is of importance in their beliefs. The food display shows how diverse the American society is in terms of race, ethnicity, and region.
The diversity of the enthusiasts of the West Indies carnival is not from one ethnicity since the American society is made of more people from the surrounding regions than the Native Americans. The interaction between different people creates a society that each culture understands.
Moreover, the festival creates an environment where people participating learn other cultures easily by seeing the other culture at play and it is more interesting since they also take part in activities being carried out by other cultures.
The carnival is a key tourist attraction point in New York and since it occurs at the end of the summer holidays, the event gets to mark the end of a very important holiday season. In addition to capitalizing on the mammoth crowds going to the festival, since it is an annual event, the tourism boom also occurs annually with the festival.
Distinguish between primary and secondary sources and explain the value of each for your research purposes
Primary source is an original source of information the author of which has personal knowledge of the event in question. It can be in the print form or oral form from a person with the facts and had this knowledge at the time being investigated. The primary source can be in the form of a recording or an article.
They are very reliable in that they are not distorted or altered as compared to secondary sources that contain a lot of bias. Furthermore, they are accurate and objective in content and are considered most reliable and are used widely for research after an extensive analysis. The main disadvantage of primary sources is the author’s bias, which might affect how they see an event and the continuous alteration of information over time.
(“West Indian Day Parade”)
These are sources of information that are derived from the original source by various manipulations such as analysis and translation. They are based on information that is already in existence elsewhere.
Secondary sources are useful in that due to the evaluation process they undergo the chances that they contain the original author’s bias are minimal. The main disadvantage is the errors it may contain due to the repeated analysis and unending interpretation of the same original document (Moss).
You will use secondary sources to place the event within the context of similar historical developments and to analyze its importance to the community in which it occurred.
The first ever record of the Labor Day carnival was in a journal the Souvenir Journal for West Indies that this was an advertisement of the first ever West Indies carnival. A journal is a publication that is done after a stated period of time. They can be for leisure or academic purposes.
Journals unlike newspapers contain specific information that may not be of interest for the general public, but a specific demographic area. Journals are more expensive than newspapers and accessible to subscribers only.
The West Indies Carnival has received a lot of media attention and it has been covered by several articles by the New York Times and the New York Sun. These newspapers are secondary sources of information. Newspapers are print media that is produced daily and is intended to distribute information to the general public.
They have four general features: they are universal, public records, produced at regular intervals, and contain current information. Throughout the twentieth century, newspapers were relied on to give information and currently their popularity is declining due to the advent of the internet. The publishing houses, however, are growing with the trend by making their newspapers digital and can be accessed online.
A web site is an online archive of information about a particular topic that can be accessed by a network such as the internet. This modern source of information contains most of the archived information on the Labor Day carnival. There are numerous websites that have information on the celebrations.
These are dynamic since they allow the participants to add information online and modify the data that is already there. The websites contain pictures, videos and personal accounts of people who have attended the carnival (“West Indian Day Parade”).
The Labor Day parade is a very important intercultural event in New York City, that is cosmopolitan and has residents from far and wide thus unifying activities are crucial. The growth of New Yorkers as one people is dependent on such occasions that bring together people of different races, religions, and origins.
Their interaction shows societal growth to a point beyond seeing one another as foreigners but as people who have their own unique culture. This is a vital show of intercultural maturity of the American society.
The carnival fosters peace between different communities. As they party together, they get to learn each other’s culture better and appreciate their differences.
The understanding of a people’s beliefs encourages mutual respect and guarantees a peaceful existence between them. The peaceful coexistence of these communities ensures that no community is treated as outsiders and hence posing risks of xenophobic violence with time (Scher).
The festival is a focal point to boost tourism in the region. The gathering of many cultures attracts tourists who are keen to experience the variety on display both in clothing and food. The income generated by the tourists can be used to better the region and provide employment to the people who find opportunities during the festival.
The event is organized by Americans for everyone else and most of them are not of the American origin. This shows how welcoming the Americans are to people from all over the world hence building their good image internationally as friendly people. This would make their country a favorite destination for tourists and immigrants (Musumeci).
This annual event brings together the American people with diverse backgrounds to create a new culture that is inclusive of every individual. The event is a lesson for the rest of the world of peaceful coexistence of different cultures by learning from one another and appreciating other people’s beliefs, which builds mutual respect.
The challenges overcome by the organizers of the carnival show how important cultural practices are for coexistence, and cultural resilience is vital to solving common conflicts. Thus, by understanding how others live we can also learn the ways of solving common problems.
The end of the summer holiday is celebrated in style by the Labor Day Carnival in Brooklyn. This day is rich in everything cultural. Even, the food and the music played on this day have a significant cultural bearing. The dawn j’ouvert sets the pace for the fun filled day by sampling the calypso music with its variances such as the Soca music.
Then, the parade is underway filled with flamboyant display of color with minimum inhibitions. The array of outfits forms a colors’ galore and the rainbow created by revelers – a sight to behold until the next year. The spicy tantalizing food with untold cultural richness is decked out for everyone’s palate.
A whole day of partying to multicultural tunes and indulging in exotic cuisine while dressed in wild and pompous outfits; all to express your cultural heritage and celebrate the diverse and endowed cultural diversity of the American people.
This event is proof that the differences in a society’s way of life should be celebrated and not be a source of conflict or wrangles. The multicultural New York community is an example of cultural maturity at its best. The growth they have shown should encourage the rest of the American states to embrace their different beliefs.
Flower, L. Learning to rival: A literate practice for intercultural inquiry. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2010. Print.
French, J. Historical and statistical gazetteer of New York State, New York, NY: Pearsall Smith, 2006. Print.
MaCallister, J. Thousand are Preparing and Millions Anticipating the 2013 West Indian American Day Carnival and Parade. 2013. Web.
Moss, F. The American metropolis from Knickerbocker days to the present time, New York, NY: Touchstone, 2008. Print.
Musumeci, N. West Indian Day Parade Kicks Off for 46thYear. 2013. Web.
Scher, P., 2008. Becoming a Tile in the Gorgeous Mosaic: West Indian American Day Parade in NYC. Web.
“West Indian Day Parade”, 2013. JPEG file. Web.
WIADCA, 2013. Web.