Barbados Culture

Barbados Culture

Where does Barbados’ culture originate?

Two very distinct influences bleed into the culture of Barbados – one is English, and the other is African. This blend of cultural influences makes learning about Barbados a fascinating and unique melting pot.

Historically, Barbados was an English / British colony dating back to when the first permanent settlers arrived on the island in 1627.

Unlike any other Caribbean island, this reign continued until the island gained its official independence from British rule on November 30th, 1966.

The African influence on Barbadian culture primarily stems from the slave trade days. Since Barbados was the first island west of Africa, Barbados was an important trading stop. Therefore many enslaved West Africans remained on the island to provide a sugar cane labor force.

Barbados is often considered incomparable to any other place in the world. With a combination of influences, everything from the people, food, local dialect, and much more.

Read more about the history of Barbados.

Legend has it

There’s an old legend that the Spanish once set out to conquer Barbados. Upon approaching the island, the mission captain looked through his telescope and saw what he thought were hundreds of thousands of English soldiers with long spears standing at attention. Upon seeing this, he decided to abandon the mission and return home. Interestingly, what that captain saw was what we know as cane arrows.

Note: Right before a sugar cane crop is ready for harvesting, the upper end of the stalk bears tiny flowers shaped like upward-pointing arrows or spears. Therefore, our sugar cane crops saved us from a potentially defining war.

Festival of Crop Over

In line with the historical significance of the sugar cane crop, the major annual cultural festival of Barbados is called Crop Over, which signifies the end of the sugar cane crop harvest.

The Crop Over festival involves a wide variety of entertainment and celebrations that brings thousands of tourists to the island each year. Held throughout July and ends in the Grand Kadooment Day parade on the first Monday in August.

In the lead-up to the parade, the festival features numerous calypso and soca music competitions. These events and cultural activities have historical ties to the original enslaved Africans.

The enslaved people invented the Crop Over custom by celebrating the end of the complex sugar cane harvest.

More Info: Get more info about the Crop Over Festival.

Come and see for yourself.

The mixture of influences on Barbadian culture makes for an unusual cultural combination. The island of Barbados is an eclectic mix of people, nightlife, food, drink, music, style, housing, and architecture; the list could go on and on.

Barbados culture is very open-minded – ask any local about a good ‘wine’ (not the alcoholic variety), and you’ll understand what we mean.

Culture in Barbados is an excellent balance of old and new traditions, and you can see this reflected all over the island.

To understand what makes the Bajan culture so unique, we recommend you come and experience it for yourself.

For more insight into all things culture, refer to our collection of local information.

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About Totally Barbados (Edit profile)

Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow online businesses with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.