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Christmas on St. Croix!

Christmas on St. Croix!The Crucian Christmas Festival became an annual event in 1952 with the revival of old holiday traditions transformed into a modern event. By naming this year's event, "Honoring 100 Years of our Centennial Past, Embracing our Present and Future to Last," the Crucian Christmas Festival Committee honors the 100th Anniversary of Transfer Day in 1917, when the US purchased the USVI from Denmark.

Tradition plays a large role in the Virgin Islands and, back in former days of slavery, Christmas and Easter were the only times the enslaved population were given time off. That called for celebration, which consisted of dressing up in costumes, masquerading, and making calls at other plantations, and parading through the streets of the towns, where dancing and merrymaking marked these gatherings. But with religious life playing a large role, churchgoing to celebrate the birth of Christ was and remains a major seasonal activity.

The Crucian Christmas Festival has become more and more organized each year and the Crucian Christmas Festival Committee has included additional events each year making it now a month-long extravaganza. Highlighting St. Croix's traditions, history, crafts, food, and drinks, it begins in December and ends with the Three Kings Parade in January. But preparations for the celebrations and elaborate parade costumes begin months ahead.

Starting with a prince and princess pageant, later a competition for the queen title, a calypso monarch singing contest for adults and youngsters, early morning tramps, or "Jouvert," into the towns, a band competition and musical theme selection all draw crowds to their venues, and the festival village and amusement park with booths offering traditional food and drink, cultural performances and trinkets for sale continue for two weeks.

Nothing equals the excitement of the parades at the end of the festivities (held in Frederiksted because of its wide streets)--first the delightful children's parade, where steel pan orchestras from schools and churches and groups of majorette twirlers vie for being the favorite of the crowds along the King Street route in Frederiksted.

The following day, the Three Kings Day adult parade is the grand finale, featuring over a hundred troupes, floats, and individual entries -- an extravaganza to the beat of loud music, bodies swaying, fantastic costumes, pageantry and pulsating energy and merriment, starting before noon and continuing until after dark. Large crowds line the parade route, and vendors of food and drink are interspersed.

Additional activities, not part of the official program but equally anticipated every year, are Christmas Spoken Here at the St. George Village Botanical Garden (Dec 4), the lighted Boat Parade in Christiansted Harbor (Dec 10), and Old Time Crucian Christmas at Whim Museum (Dec 14-17).

Christmas on St. Croix!

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