The National Flower Festivals: La Rose and La Marguerite
Where, in some countries, the population may be divided into
classes and castes, in the context of Saint Lucia’s Cultural traditions there
exist two ‘Societies’, Roses and Marguerites - singing societies whose
members are dedicated to the praising of those respective flowers.
Each society holds an annual festival or grande fete, an
elaborate and colourful event full of pomp and pageantry, which is preceded by
several months of nightly singing practices called “Seances”.
Presiding over the annual festivals are the ‘King’ and
‘Queen who are accompanied by their royal entourage of Dukes, Duchesses,
Princes, Princesses, Soldiers, Policemen, Magistrates, Doctors, nurses, the
clerical hierarchy and supporters of the respective flowers. Strict protocol is
observed at those nightly Seances, with every visitor or participating member,
upon entering, bowing to the King and Queen who are present with their court.
Police and soldiers in uniform enforce regulations against any disorder,
breaches of protocol, or what are considered misdemeanors. Offenders are taken
before a magistrate for a mock trial and then fined.
Each society has a patron saint on whose feast day the grande
fete is celebrated. For the Roses it is the feast of St. Rose of Lima on the
30th August; and for the Marguerites it is that of St. Margaret Mary Alacocque,
The grande fete is celebrated, first with church services throughout the island and afterwards with processions through the streets, the principal personages magnificently attired. In the evening there is a sumptuous banquet to which dignitaries and leading personalities are invited. The rest of the evening is spent in dancing. One can then witness and participate in some of the colourful folk dances, the Quadrille, the Mappa, the Belair and such like.
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