The Dominican Republic Carnival

The Dominican Republic Carnival is one of the greatest festivities in the country. The people of the Dominican Republic love to have a good time and the carnival are no exception. The carnival is generally celebrated during the month of February. During that month the different events and parades can be seen on each weekend.

The independence day of the Dominican Republic which is in February 27 coincides with the pinnacle of the carnival celebration. The joy that people experience during the festivities is so great that even tourists love getting involved. The colorful festival has been around during centuries and is a very important part of the Dominican’s culture.

Carnival History

The Dominican Republic carnival today is a mixture of the celebrations from different cultures. The carnival has elements from the Tainos, the Africans and the Spaniard culture. Originally the tainos (which were the original habitants of the island) had their own celebrations called areitos. This ceremony was performed to commemorate weddings, harvesting times and other important events. They used body painting, masks and jewelry to participate in the ceremonies.

Later after the Spaniards arrived with the African slaves the festivities acquired aspects from the other cultures. The music that the slaves brought were more rhythmic and the masks were definitely scarier. The Spaniards added Christian elements to the festivities since it was mostly a pagan celebration. There is evidence that carnival has been celebrated in Santo Domingo as early as the 16th century.

There are many towns that commemorate the carnivals of the Dominican Republic. Each one of them has their own colors, preferred masks, original characters and costumes. Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Santiago and La Vega are just some of the towns that have their own way of enjoying the festivities. Normally the carnival involves several parades across different streets around the town.

Dominican Republic Carnival Costumes

The people in the parade wear all kinds of different costumes and masks. The masks typically used are scary. They usually have 2, 3 or more horns and razor sharp teeth. As they parade if there is anyone in their path; they chase them trying to hit them with their “vejigas”. Those “vejigas” are basically inflated pig bladders.

One of the most prominent characters in the carnival is the devil “cojuelo”. This character is based on an ancient legend of a prankster demon that was banished to the earth and when he landed he injured his leg. Roba la gallina is another important character, which are mostly men disguised as women. Other people dress as Taino Indians and some as Africans.

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