The Masquerade : A Unique Staple Of A True Guyanese Christmas Contributed by: Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.
We all have many pleasant and delightful memories of Christmas. For many Guyanese, there are several things that are synonymous with the Christmas celebrations; and at the top of that list is, no doubt, food. What is a Guyanese Christmas without pepper pot and bread, ginger beer, garlic pork, black cake, and fruit cake? Another question is, what is a Guyanese Christmas without cleaning the house, buying new curtains and Christmas Eve shopping? Without these, Christmas in Guyana would be, in layman’s terms, ‘flat and ordinary’. On that list of things that are synonymous with Christmas, here is one item that is sometimes understated and even under appreciated. That item is ‘the Masquerade’. The mere thought of ‘masquerade’ at Christmas time brings back mixed childhood memories of fright and happiness. In the past, masqueraders announced themselves with the sounds of drumming and presented themselves with scary masks. Today, that has changed. Over the years, great strides have been made in repositioning and refining masquerade. Following a Masquerade in 2012, there has been significant developments regarding the design of costumes, dance moves and music. In an effort to promote the Masquerade tradition, the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, will be hosting a ‘Masquerade Jamboree’ on December 20-22, 2016. This event will include a number of events such as a Masquerade Parade on December 19, 2016 from 12:00pm. The parade will commence at the
Guyana National Museum by the Masquerade Mural, south into Water Street to Stabroek Market, east into Brickdam, north into High street, then into Main Street to the Department of Culture. The participating bands are Torch and Showtime from Region 10; Ann’s Grove Warriors Region 4, Victoria Renegades and Fyah in de Land from Region 4; Golden Arrowhead from Region 3; and Fire-Red and Village-Ram from Region 2. The programme also includes a “Flounce Off” in Plaisance; a spoken word event where attention will be on Masquerade Language and Readings on December 21st, 2016. The latter is a child-centered event surrounding the launch of Juliet Emanuel’s ‘Read to me and more: A Book about Masquerade’. It is anticipated that this event will result in an increased appreciation of the art- form and the emergence of more masquerade groups around the country. If at any time you encounter a masquerade band during the festive season – stop and enjoy this unique staple of a true Guyanese Christmas.