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Nine Mornings – uniquely ours

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Tue, Dec 13. 2011

Although the official period of “Nine Mornings” does not begin until Friday, December 16, our national Christmas and Nine Mornings Festival is well on the way, having been officially launched over a week ago.{{more}}

Saturday gone, the community of Dorsetshire Hill, which is taking part in the festivities for the first time this year, launched its programme, and tonight and tomorrow, the communities of Richland Park and Carriere respectively, will follow with their launches and lighting up ceremonies. Over the next two weeks, 20 more communities, both on the mainland and on Bequia, will join in the celebration of this tradition that is uniquely Vincentian.

The Nine Mornings festivities may be just what the doctor ordered to lift our spirits in these challenging times. The activities are free, decentralized and family friendly, therefore making them accessible and acceptable to most persons.

Each morning, the proceedings begin with prayers led by church groups from around the country. Unlike many other public events, the inclusion of religion does not end with the opening prayer. A quick perusal of the official Nine Mornings programme will reveal the strong religious content of each morning’s activity. As a result, many devout Christians feel comfortable taking an active part in this aspect of our culture. There are none of the excesses which tend to make the more conservative among us shy away from other cultural festivals.

The daily programmes are a carefully blended mixture of song, dance, comedy acts and instrumental performances, punctuated by competitions involving the audience.

A wide cross-section of society generally takes part in the unique tradition: from pastors to politicians, children to cyclists, mummies to musicians, vendors to visitors. The atmosphere is like no other. The crowd builds steadily from a few dozen at 4:00 a.m to many more by 6:00 a.m., when it is at its largest. Generally, everyone stands peacefully in the cool, early-morning air. The absence of rowdy, intoxicated individuals and persons jostling their way through the crowd is refreshing.

The vendors come prepared with traditional breakfast fare. They do a brisk trade in fresh, peeled fruit, like oranges and golden apples; and bakes, saltfish cakes and “cocoa tea”. Although the main hub of activities is in Kingstown, the activities in the rural areas are quite entertaining and well worth the visit.

What immediately strikes a casual observer of audiences at Nine Mornings activities in the past is the youthful makeup of the crowd. A rough estimate puts the number of persons under 16 years of age on a given morning at about 60 per cent of those present. This augurs well for the tradition. The snugly dressed youngsters come out, accompanied by their parents and grandparents. With expressions of excitement and anticipation, they edge to get closer and closer to the stage, hoping for the opportunity to perform and win a prize. Part of the excitement too, must result from the fact that they are out of the house at a time when they would not normally be allowed to.

This year’s line up of activities includes Bicycle, Tricycle and Scooter Races; Street Ball Fun Races, Fun Events, Visitor Races; and Aerobics and Table Tennis, in an effort to boost audience participation. Monday, December 19 has been designated the Diaspora morning, with performances from Vincentians in the Diaspora featured prominently.

We, therefore, encourage persons at home and abroad to make the effort to take part in the festivities on at least one of the mornings. For those overseas, it is not too late to make arrangements to celebrate with us, our unique Vincentian tradition.

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