Kadooment Day, celebrated every first Monday of August in Barbados, is the most vibrant celebration of all the holidays in Barbados. This year, it falls on August 1. It closes the six-week Crop Over Festival celebrations. On this day, locals wear extravagant clothes and costumes, drink lots of rum, and dance to the hypnotic calypso music so popular in the Caribbean. It’s a celebration of life, freedom, and ancient history. The grand parade is its biggest attraction — a showy, colorful ceremony and a befitting end to weeks of non-stop partying.
History of Kadooment Day
‘Kadooment’ is a Bajan phrase meaning ‘large party.’ This holiday is centuries old, dating back to the time of slavery. Barbados was one of the biggest sugar cane producers in the 1700s because of slave labor. Kadooment Day and Crop Over day were introduced in the late 18th century to celebrate the successful harvest of the sugar crop. Those who worked on sugar cane plantations got the rare opportunity to smile, laugh, and be merry. It was a holiday they eagerly anticipated, and when it came, they always celebrated it in grand style — finally, they could enjoy their lives, even if it was only for a few weeks. They also got the opportunity to honor their old traditions and customs.
The concept of celebrating a bountiful harvest comes from Africa, where most Barbadians trace their ancestry — Barbadians adopted this culture and added their twist. They wore costumes made of grass, feathers, flowers, and bones during this festive period, parading themselves in the streets while singing and dancing. These celebrations were their way of thanking the gods and asking for more blessings in their next harvest. The elaborate masquerade costume was also a borrowed concept from the Europeans, who often held masquerade balls on their estates. Celebrations included lots of rum, which locals brewed from sugar cane.
Performers engaged in friendly competition, trying to outdo each other in song and dance. Onlookers were encouraged to join in the festivities and not just watch from the sidelines, probably where carnival parades in Barbados started. Crowds of revelers followed performers through the streets, shouting themselves hoarse over the sound of calypso music. Even after the abolition of slavery, Barbadians continued to celebrate Kadooment Day. It’s deeply ingrained in their history, and it gives them the chance to celebrate their culture.
Kadooment Day timeline
Pieter Blower, a Dutchman, introduces sugar cane to Barbados.
The largest slave revolt in Barbadian history takes place.
After many years of legislative and political activism, slavery gets abolished.
Barbados gains independence after several hundred years of colonial rule.
Kadooment Day FAQs
Which festival is most popular in Barbados?
Crop Over is the most popular Barbadian festival.
Why is Crop Over celebrated in Barbados?
Crop Over was initially a way for hard-working Bajans to celebrate the end of the harvest season.
How long does the Crop Over Festival last in Barbados?
The Crop Over Festival lasts two months; however, the celebrations can extend to twelve weeks.
Kadooment Day Activities
Buy a bottle of rum
Rum is one of Barbados' primary exports. Raise a toast to Barbados on Kadooment Day.
Listen to calypso
The afro-Caribbean music of calypso plays in parades and concerts on Kadooment Day. Listen to this unique style of music that is a central part of Barbadian culture and history.
Organize a party
Bajans love to party, especially on Kadooment Day. Throw a fancy dress party and invite your friends. Enjoy food, drinks, and good company. Be grateful for the little things.
5 Fast Facts About Barbados
They have the third oldest parliament
The parliament of Barbados began operating in 1639.
Its capital is a world heritage site
Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
High literacy rates
Barbados has a literacy rate of 99.6%.
The land of grapefruit
Grapefruit, a citrus hybrid of sweet orange and pomelo, originated in Barbados.
It's one of the smallest countries
At 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados is the 13th smallest country worldwide.
Why We Love Kadooment Day
It's an old tradition
Kadooment Day is over 300 years old. It's a time-honored tradition linking the old Barbados to the new. Bajans always enthusiastically look forward to this holiday.
Celebration of different cultures
Kadooment day recognizes the African, European, Caribbean, and West Indian cultures. Their influences are visible in the food, music, and entertainment on this national holiday.
We love masquerades
Kadooment Day is incomplete without masks and fancy dresses, a callback to the European influence in Barbados. The costumes are also akin to traditional African costumes worn during festive celebrations.
Kadooment Day dates