La Rose (La Wòz) and La Marguerite (La Magwit) are as uniquely Saint Lucian in identity and location as the nation’s iconic Pitons. Dating back across generations, each Flower’s celebration unveils elaborate pageantry reminiscent of a European court, but with music richly evocative of Africa.

A unique anthropological study, Saint Lucia’s Flower Festivals are actually the invention of the ‘peasant’ class and were a parody of their social superiors. A ‘King’ and a ‘Queen’ preside over each ‘society’, which is comprised of mock princes and princesses, military, legal and service personnel.

Flower societies exist across the island. The groups hold weekly song-filled séances, which consists of all night singing and dancing sessions where drinks are sold and various games played. The central figure at the séance is the Chantwelle/Chanteur (lead singer) who sustains the spirit and tenor of the evening’s entertainment. The instruments are rustic and include the anba goj (violin), banjo, quatro, guitar, shak-shak, baha, gwaj (grater), and drums.

Each Flower Society has its own highly animated season lasting several weeks and culminating in a feast day full of splendour and spectacle. La Wòz celebrations coincide with the feast of Saint Rose De Lima on August 30. La Magwit is the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, observed on October 17, each year. On feast day, all members of the society, dressed in costumes representing their respective roles march to church for the service which precedes their parade through the streets before returning to the venue for the Grand Fete. The Cultural Development Foundation invites our friends in the diaspora and beyond to join Saint Lucians as we journey to the various communities to experience and enjoy this dramatic and authentic festival.

Raymona Henry-Wynne

Photo: St. Lucia’s unique Flower Festivals date back generations. Courtesy of Raymona Henry-Wynne.

This article by Raymona Henry-Wynne appears courtesy of Caribbean Essence.