Societies of Saint Lucia

Societies Of Saint Lucia

Societies of Saint Lucia

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Description:
The societies (societés) of Saint Lucia are two historic associations on the Antillean island country of Saint Lucia, La Woz ("The Rose") and La Magwit ("The Marguerite"). Ostensibly based around singing the virtues of the rose and marguerite flowers, the societies are intense rivals, and their membership includes most of the population of the island.

Each society holds a yearly festival, on August 30 for the "Roses" and October 17 for the "Marguerites". These flower festivals are unique to St. Lucia and are major events in the cultural life and history of the country.

The names La Woz and La Magawit are in the local Creole language, that combines a European vocabulary with a West African based grammar.

History

The societies originated in the time of slavery as co-operative work groups created for mutual support, and assistance in time of trouble. These groups were similar to the dokpwé of Dahomey, and the coumbite of Haiti.

The two societies are vaguely inspired on two mystic orders that were active at the time in Europe, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. This connection is depicted in a mural painted by Dunstan St. Omer, which shows the holy trinity of Osiris, Horus and Isis.

In former years the St Lucian society was split in affiliation to one or the other group. At times membership has been illegal, and it has also been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless the societies survived, although their nature has changed...
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