The Malecón of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, known as the city's waterfront boulevard, will soon once again be the scene of a colorful celebration.
Every February 27, the city recalls its history through the Dominican Carnival, an event that serves to commemorate the country's independence. This multitudinous happening is considered to be the closing event of the different carnivals that occur during the month of February throughout the country.
Here are five important facts about the Dominican Carnival.
1 – According to the “Dominican Republic has it all” website, the Dominican Carnival is an upbeat celebration that takes place Sundays throughout the month of February, ending Feb. 27 with the Dominican Independence Day festivities. The carnival is a parade style event in which many groups walk and dance while displaying colorful costumes and masks.
2 – Carnival groups throughout the country represent a variety of characters. However, there are key characters that are a staple of the Dominican carnival celebrations, here are a few:
Diablo Cojuelo –limping devil– is the main character of the carnival. The costume of this character usually has bright colors and facial expressions that represent a devil. Horns are normally a part of the diablo cojuelo costume. They usually carry a whip or hard balloon with them.
Roba la Gallina – hen thief– is another leading character in the carnival. The character is a large woman. A layered dress, big purse and an umbrella are usually part of the robla la gallina custom.
Lechones are traditionally seen in the carnival, but they are an exclusive part of the festivities in Santiago de los Caballeros. Lechones are another form of the limping devil with the face mask being the main difference. The horns of lechones are very large and the shape of the mouth is similar to a duck.
3 – The carnival is held throughout various regions in the country, but the biggest and most famous carnival takes place in La Vega. This carnival often has performances by Dominican artists and local celebrities also take part in the event. La Vega’s carnival started in the 1500s and at that time the customs were based on religious figures. People from around the country go on trips to La Vega just to take part in the carnival related celebrations every February.
4 – It is very common for carnival characters to carry whips and hard balloons with them. They use these items to hit carnival attendees, sometimes to the point of creating a bruise on the skin. Many people consider this an unpleasant act of violence. Attendees constantly keep an eye on the disguised to avoid getting hit. The 2020 carnival in La Vega had a specific area where hitting was not allowed. A 2014 article published in the Listín Diario newspaper, details how a journalist had a bruise and was limping after being hit more than once at a carnival.
5 – Year after year, the month of February brings excitement to the Dominican people as they get ready for the carnival celebrations. Some people prepare ahead of the carnival by picking a special outfit for the occasion. The carnivals are family friendly and many parents take pride in bringing their children to watch the parade while they have a drink, dance to the music and spend time with the community.
For more information regarding the carnival, visit the Dominican Republic has it all website.