Fisherman's Birthday Celebration in Grenada
Blessing of the fishing fleet at Gouyave
Fisherman's Birthday Celebration
The Fisherman's Birthday festival in Grenada (June 29) honors St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, and it's held in Grenada's fishing capital, the town of Gouyave. Gouyave is also popular for its weekly Fish Friday.
By the time the celebration finally ends, Gouyave once again will have proved its reputation as “Action City, the town that never sleeps.” (See Gouyave's history as a party town.)
Prior to the blessing of the fleet, a mass is held inside the local cathedral. Mixed in with the prayers are lots of singing and even speech making by island politicians.
The mass starts on Caribbean time, an hour late. Few fishermen are interested in going inside the church but would rather sit together on the beach talking and drinking Carib beers.
They're more interested in the blessing of their boats than themselves.
When the mass ends, about two hours later than scheduled, the priest leads a procession through the streets that ends at a large tent on Gouyave's beach.
He is accompanied by altar boys, trumpet players, bass drummers and most of the church goers.
It's well into
the rainy season and showers have threatened all morning
but they never materialize. It's late in the morning and the sun is intense.
Nevertheless, with godspeed pushing at his leather shoes, the priest quickly walks the beach, almost at
a semi-sprint. An altar boy holding the vessel of holy water struggles
to stay beside him.
that each and every boat will share in the globules of holy water, Father Anselm keeps his arm in continuous motion as he
dips the aspergillum (sprinkler) into the container
of holy water and flings it as hard as he can.
If the priest had decided to become a boxer instead, he would have an impressive right hook.
It seems impossible that the modest container of holy water will last the length of the football field-long beach, but as in the instance of the blessing of loaves and fishes, there is ample left over.
As soon as slightly exhausted priest leaves the beach, loudspeakers begin warning sailors the sailboat race will start promptly at noon, or about two hours later than scheduled.
As the competitors slide their boat hulls across the sand into the water, many bystanders head for the bars and restaurants beside the beach. Loud recorded music comes from many stores.
Whatever its true religious significance, the Fisherman's Birthday is really a preview of Grenada's annual Carnival celebration, just three weeks away.
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