The Virgin IslandsAn Introduction to the Culture of the Virgin Islands A simple way to communicate better Presented by: Casseanna Anderson, Gina Blanchet- Parker, Brooke Costa, & Ashley Wood (Virgin islands picture, 2012)
Table of ContentsThis guide to the culture of the Virgin Islands can help a person avoid culture shock, the sense ofanxiety, stress or confusion while traveling to another area (Beebe, Beebe, Ivy, Lane & Redmond, 2011) Itis best to learn about the culture before travel to be comfortable and polite during travel. Topics include: Introduction to the Islands Gender Roles by Brooke Costa Nonverbal Use of Clothing- Informal by Cassea Anderson Nonverbal Use of Clothing- Formal by Gina Blanchet-Parker Traditions and Rituals by Ashley Wood Communication Concepts/Conclusion Virgin Island Discussion Questions
Virgin Islands Introduction Provided by: Facts and figures, 1998 • Average temperature is 77°F in the winter and 82°F in the summer • The U.S. purchased (A nation or, 2011) St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John under• Before the United the guidance of the States purchase U.S. Navy in 1917 for of the islands, “6 $25 million in gold flags have flown over” them including Spanish, British, Danish, Knights (Lee, 2010) of Malta, French and Dutch • Christopher Columbus landed on St. Croix during his second voyage in 1493 and named the island Santa (Flag of the, 2011) Cruz
As in many societies, the woman areexpected to be responsible for most of thecooking and food preparation in the home. In this section we will look at the gender roles in the Virgin Islands. On the left aVirgin Island woman carries fruit in a headbasket (Richardson, 2010). The image on the right is from an old cookbook and displays culture and heritage (Virgin islands cooking, 2012).
Roles of Virgin Island WomenOckerstrom (2012) explains, women in the Virgin Islands are primarilyresponsible for cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing and care of thechildren. Although many families are considered traditional including amother and a father, 28% of families are led by single mothers. 76% of theUniversity students are female.Some women hold jobs outside of the home including:• “Higgling” or street peddling including selling food or homemade items• Crafting piece work items at home for large companies (often for low wages)
Roles of Virgin Island Men In 1990 the median income for Virgin Islanders was just over $24,000 per year. Ockerstrom (2012) explains• Virgin Island men are responsible for many domestic chores including: fishing, building houses and agriculture production.• Many men hold positions in upper level management & public offices.• 71% of US Virgin Island families are lead by a male who is “head” of the family.• 30% of workers are employed to aid and support tourism.• Fruit, vegetables and bay leaves are harvested from the islands. Puerto Rico purchases cattle from the islands.• St. Croix is home to the largest oil refinery in the world.
Nonverbal Use of Clothing- InformalTactful swim wear.In the Virgin Islands, swimwear stays at the beach. Whilein town, it is considered notacceptable to wear swim wearsuch as bathing suits. (U.s.virgin island travelguide, 2007) (Wedding pictures, 2009)
Nonverbal Use of Clothing- InformalFor the children norms, theywear cotton school uniformswith shoes and sneakers. Menwear shirts and long pantswith shoes or sandals. Theyounger generation prefersstyles from the U.S. mainland,such as T-shirts, jeans, orshorts. (Proquest, 2009) Ockerstrom (2012) shows typical school apparel.
Nonverbal Use of Clothing- Formal The Virgin Islands are divided into two parts- the British side and the U.S. side. Both sides retain conservative clothing expectations – even of visitors. (Clothing and attire in the virgin islands)• Many locals will find any clothing that shows the tummy and chest too casual and socially inappropriate. Going shirtless, even for men is not acceptable. (Clothing and attire in the virgin islands)• In some parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s even illegal to wear beachwear to places other than the beach. (Clothing and attire in the virgin islands)
Nonverbal Use of Clothing- FormalAlthough the Virgin Islands’apparel is generally modestand casual, specialcelebrations call for a moreformal attire such as theone pictured here.(Bareuther, 2011)Ceremonial dresses areworn during beauty (Blu, 2011)pageants, which are inimportant part of the VirginIslands’ culture.
Nonverbal Use of Clothing The weather in the Virgin Islands is tropical, so dress to prevent overheating and sunburn. Remember, the Virgin Islands are located closer to the equator, so the sun does more damage inless time than here in the Continental U.S. The key to dressing either formally orinformally is to be comfortable but modestconservative...less than that is considered (St. thomas, 2011) disrespectful.
Rituals of the Virgin Islands•Carnival known as the • Started to disappear“Biggest Party of the during World War I andYear” (Culture & history- then revive again in 1952carnival) (Culture & history-•St. Croix- December carnival)(Culture & history- • Carnival festivals includecarnival) beauty pageants, talent•St. Thomas- Final week shows, boat races, andof April (Culture & floats (Culture & history-history- carnival) carnival) (Carnaval- 2010, 2010)•St. Johns- 4th of July • Goal is to preserve theweek (Culture & history- Islands’ culture and thecarnival) development of tourism • Began in 1912 during the final year under Danish ruling (Culture & history- (Celebrating sixty years) carnival)
Rituals of the Virgin Islands• Traditions include numerous superstitions and storytelling (Virgin islands culture)• Tales are told to children as “cautionary” in order to teach lessons; much like our American Aesop fables (Virgin islands culture)• Superstitions include “jumbies” or ghost-like spirits (Virgin islands culture)• “Bru-Nansi”; most common story character (Virgin islands culture)• Mocko jumbies refer to “healer spirit” (Virgin islands culture)
Rituals of the Virgin IslandsA Mocko Jumbie performance at The Mocko Jumbie dance is traditionallyweddings, graduations, parties, or performed at religious ceremonies andparades is considered an honor as rites of passage (Mocko jumbies- the)well as a blessing (Mockojumbies- the) Dancers perform on stilts while wearing long and colorful dresses; stilts add on height to scare away evil spirits and “chase” children that misbehave (Mocko jumbies- the) Spiritualizes the spirit world (United states virgin) Includes acrobatics and stunts as part of (Mocko jumbies- the) performance (United states virgin)
Rituals of the Virgin Islands Many weddings take place at churches like St. Ursula’s Episcopal (pictured left) to honor the European-influenced style ritual (United states virgin) “Jump the Broom” style includes the bride and groom “sweeping away” their former(Church wedding locations) single lives and the joining and creation of a new family (Jumping the broom)
Rituals of the Virgin Islands Festivals AgrifestJohnny Cakes and Seamoss Agriculture and Food Fest(Virgin islands food) Includes farmers and localPopular food/drink at merchants and craftsmen;parties, graduations, wedding, birt similar to Farmer’s Markets inhs (Virgin islands food) the U.S.Johnny Cakes- fried cornmeal Photo Credit: (Barnes, 2011) Highlights the agriculture andcakes made from baking Photo Credit: (Spivak, 2007) the richness of the island’spowder, salt, shortening, flour, sug culturear, and milk (Caribbean cooking) Highly anticipated annualSeamoss- seaweed boiled until it event that is supported by thedissolves and then mixed with Department of Tourismmilk and spices (Virgin islandsfood) (38th annual agrifest)
Communication Concepts While learning the culture you may find the following communication concepts helpful in interacting with the native people. Visitors are encouraged to slow down and relax as taking their time will help to comprehend and communicate better with the culture (Beebe, Beebe, Ivy, Lane & Redmond)• English is the most widely spoken language but infused with a Creole or calypso twist (Virgin islands’ languages) • Locals speak very quickly and with a heavy accent; often difficult to understand at first (Virgin islands’ languages)
Communication Concepts -VerbalLearning a few key phrases can help you adjust to the new culture quicker and moresmoothly. “Good Morning”, Good Afternoon”, and “Good Night” are warm greetings in the Islands and are considered the norm (Virgin islands culture) Saying “Hello” or “Hi” is informal and frowned upon by the locals (U.s virgin islands local customs) Ockerstrom explains, (2012) Some common proverbs are: “What a kallaloo!” Kallaloo is a soup made of greens and seaweed but this phrase is used in the Islands to reference any type of mess. “Limin’” A slang term referring to laying back and enjoying the day.
Communication Concepts- Nonverbal Use of ClothingTo have good communication it is a necessity to find out culture norms whentraveling to new places.The U.S virgin island: tipping & etiquette guide (2006) states, A culture’snorms are important to understand to have good communication with theresidents of that area. Residents of the Virgin Island are extremely modestin their dress. Dress is casual, and you want to be as cool as possible, butplease cover up when in public.One of the most important aspects to consider while visiting the islands is toremember to treat locals with respect and not as tourist attractions. Insteadof being condescending or patronizing, be polite and courteous during yourstay.
Discussion Questions • Why do you think saying “Hello” or “Hi” is frowned upon?? • When is it okay and not okay to wear swim suit attire?? • With nearly ¾ of University students being women, how do you speculate this may change the family dynamics and economy of? the island in the upcoming generation?
References38th annual agrifest. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.vinow.com/articles/011609agrifest.phpA nation or nobody. (2011). [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://baytreekingdom.blogspot.com 2011/10/geraldo-guirty-on-us-virgin-islands.htmlBareuther, C. (Photographer). (2011). Celebrate st. john!. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.virginislandsthisweek.com/featured_articles/_by_carol_bareuther_rd.htmlBarnes, D. (Photographer). (2011). ‘must try’ local foods. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.virginislandsthisweek.com/featured_articles/must_try_local_foods_1.htmlBeebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., D. K., Lane, S. D., & Redmond, M. V. (2011) The Blue Book ofCommunication Studies. (p.151) Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.Blu, S. (Photographer). (2011). Virgin islands carnival queen 2011 elisa thomas. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://shinymeteor.blogspot.com/2011/04/virgin-islands-carnival-queen-2011.htmlCaribbean cooking. (2005, January 25). Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.caribbeancboice.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?tid=75386Carnaval- 2010. (2010). [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.carnaval2010.org/tag/virgin-islands carnival/Celebrating sixty years. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.vicarnival.com/whattoexpect.htmlChurch wedding locations on st. john us virgin islands. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www. usviwedding.com/ceremony_locations_churches.htmlClothing and attire in the virgin islands. (2012) Retrieved from http://virginislands-guide.info/travel.basics /clothing.and.attire/
ReferencesCulture & history – carnival. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.visitusvi.com/culture_historyFacts and figures about the u.s. virgin islands. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://usvi-info.com/infousvi faqsguide.htmlFlag of the british virgin islands. (2011). [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki File:Flag_of_the_British_Virgin_Islands.svgJumping the broom history. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com/ceremonybroom.htmlLee, C. (Photographer). (2012). Retrieved from http://www.here.vi/Islands/islands.htmlMocko jumbies– the colorful spirits of the virgin islands. (n.d.) Retrieved February 11, 2012 from http://www.piratesparadiseadventures.com/mocko-jumbies-colorful-spirits-of-virgin-islands/Ockerstrom, L. (2012) Virgin Islander Americans. Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Sr-Z/Virgin-Islander-Americans.htmlProquest. World Edition. (2009) The Americas 1. (p.146) Utah, Provo: Culture Grams.Richardson, K. (Photographer). (2010). Santa rosa. [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1429464935622&set=o.80785538462&type=3&theaterSpivak, S. (Photographer). (2007). Salt fish and callaloo fritters. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.best-virgin-islands-guide.com/images/salt-fish-and-callaloo-fritters-by-avlxyz-virgin islands.jpgSt. croixs carnival. (n.d.) [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.gotostcroix.com/images/carnival/carnival5b.jpg
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