Grenada gained national independence from Britain a mere 43 years ago on February 7th 1974.
Like a typical Caribbean island we possess an extra ordinary amount of national pride. Leading up to our independence day celebrations Grenadians become extra Grenadian. Here are 5 ways you can celebrate our national independence in like a Grenadian:
- Cook our national dish Oil Down and/or Waters (Grenadian term for a broth like soup)
In the weeks and days before we celebrate our national independence it seems like everyone is hunting for breadfruit to cook our national dish: Oil Down. No breadfruit…no oil down, that’s the rule. Oil Down is a one pot meal. It contains: breadfruit (surprise!), local ground provision, fig (green bananas), carrots, pumpkin, callaloo, flour dumplings, turmeric (which we call saffron), coconut milk and salt meat or salt fish.
On independence day you will find people cooking outside using giant pots on an open fire at the beach, on river banks and road sides. Its a fun communal vibe and everyone gets involved…even if it is to keep the cook company.There is an art to cooking this meal called packing the pot. The ingredients that take the longest to cook are at the bottom and the ones that take the least amount of cooking time are at the top.
(Sidenote: you can learn to cook Oil Down this week at our restaurant, Dodgy Dock, with local cooking stars Esther and Omega on Thursday 2nd February from 3 pm)
Another favourite to cook on an open fire is waters- local favorites are: lambie (conch)waters, crayfish (caught in the river) waters, mannish (manly animal parts) waters, beef waters and sea cat (octopus) waters.
2. The whole island is decorated with Grenadian flags and our national colors red yellow and green, and you need to be too. It’s the law…well…its a rule we take very seriously.
As soon as the new years excitement calm down the Grenadian flags and our national colors start to to appear everywhere. If you have ever driven around the island you know that our island is already fairly decorated in red yellow and green. Around Independence it gets…well…a little out of hand.
People are not exempt from being adorned in the national colors. You can buy full independence day suits for both adults and children. Around independence day there is no such thing as being too patriotic!
3. See children parade in the streets in our national colors
Photo Cred: Dwain Thomas
This is possibly one of the cutest sights in all of human existence, or at least top 10. Little children dressed in Grenada themed clothes parade through the streets with their class teachers singing Independence songs. Anyone who went to primary school in Grenada remembers belting out tunes like “We are from Grenada if you please….the spice island of the west indies!!!”. The whole affair is simply endearing and will have you contemplating reproduction in the near future.
4. Lime by the Beach or by River
On independence day you will find groups of people with copious amounts of food and a cooler packed with drinks (plenty rum is required) liming at the beach, near waterfalls and by rivers. It is a day of togetherness, laughs and plenty ole talk.
Glossary of Grenadian Terms
Lime (not of the citrus variety) – an Eastern Caribbean term used both as a verb and a noun which means -to not do anything in particular with at least one other person. The only requirement is to have a good time. In other parts of the english speaking world it can be likened to “hanging out”. However, there must be a fair amount of “ole talk” that may or may not occur during a “hangout”.
Ole talk– To talk about anything and everything, but not in any serious way. Under no circumstances must the conversation get serious, at that stage it ceases to be ole talk.
Lime and ole talk in a sentence
Verb: Alwin, Lystra and their friends went to Bathway beach on independence day to lime. There was plenty ole talk going on
Noun: Alwin, Lystra and their friends went to Bathway beach on independence day for a lime.
5. Check out the Independence Day Parade in person or on tv
Photo cred: Dwain Thomas
There is a parade put on by state which takes place at the National Stadium located in our capital parish: St. George’s. Members of all arms of the Royal Grenada Police Force, a police marching band and various girl and boy scouts take part. Unlike the other ways to celebrate Independence Day like a Grenadian this one is quite formal and official. However, one requirement remains…wear our national colors!