BookIsh Plaza @ Dera Gay 2014

14 05 2014

Drea Gay 2014
Bookish Plaza will be with Caribbean books this coming July 5th at one of Aruban cultural festivities Dia di San Juan (St. John’s Day) where there is this tradition of Dera Gay. Nowadays the acts are more symbolically. These festivities are not only celebrated on the island, but with a growing community of Arubans in Holland we also celebrate it here. 

Background tradition
One of the unique festivities of Aruba is the celebration of San Juan on June 24th. Dera Gay, means bury the rooster. This is the most important dance where a life rooster is buried leaving only its head above the ground. A man is then selected from the crowd and is blindfolded. He is then asked to kill the rooster by hitting its head very hard with a stick. The tradition to bury a living rooster was very common in those days. Nowadays it is obviously unthinkable to do such a thing. Over the years, this has been replaced with a calabash gourd, and nowadays a synthetic rooster is placed above the ground.

The man is then spinned around so that he is disoriented and no longer knows the exact location of the rooster. Then with a corn stick, he has to hit the rooster’s head. He has 3 chances, and if he misses another man is given the opportunity. An experienced dancer is guided by the wind and uses his foot to feel the ground in search of the rooster, because as a rule you are not to feel the ground with the stick.

This celebration has originated among the early Indians, centuries ago on the South part of Mexico and came down to Guatemala. It really started as a rural rounding of one harvest and the beginning of a new one. The Indians, who live close to nature, were extremely afraid of the unknown and of course of the gods. That’s why when the harvest was over they would clean the fields and the remainder of the harvest were burned. There was no better means of purification than fire but at the same time, they would make offerings to the god of fire. Of course, they were also thanking the other gods that were involved in helping with the needed rain and sun. Thanking also for the generous harvest and using the chance to ask for more in the coming year. Therefore, they had fire on the last day of the harvest year and celebrated the new harvest year with festivities. On the eve of this new harvest year, while the fire soars high in the sky the men would jump over these bonfires. Making a bet and challenging is done with rounds of foods and drinks.

Along with the Dera Gay dances, singing contests and jumping over fires. Other festivities goes on, there are typical dances, story telling for the kids and telling jokes, all this is done around the fire. Every town has its own festivity and dominant colors would be the colors of fire mainly yellow and red. Some hotels, restaurant and malls may have a special day honoring this event with dances and special local delicacies, but you can also venture into town, may it be Tanki Leendert, Playa Pabou, Savaneta or Santa Cruz, you are welcome to celebrate this cultural event with the locals.


BookIsh Plaza @ Fiesta di San Juan in Tilburg

4 09 2012

Photo Impression BookIsh Plaza @ Festival di Dande

8 01 2012

BookIsh Plaza dec 2011 037

By eneryvibes

The Meet & Greet at the Festival di Dande in Rotterdam was a success. BookIsh Plaza was present spreading the reading vibe and people were interested in our broad assortment of books. It was a great evening with nice performances and an awesome gaita group of singers.

The festival by the way is a cultural festivity we Arubians celebrate coming the New Year. The tradition goes that the days before New Year, groups of musicians will go from house to house in the neigbourhood to give all fine wishes to their fellow men by singing: ‘Oh Dande nos a yega na bo porta, Ay Nobe’ [We come to bring you good tidings in the New Year, Happy New Year]. They will sing for all the members of the houshold. They’ll pass a hat around so you can give them a tip, they eat and drink, then go on their way. This will go on the whole day till late at night. I still remember as a child they came to my grandmother’s house. That’s the first time I ever had the pleasure to meet an authentic Dande group.
In Aruba this custom has grown with the years and you’ll find Dande groups everywhere wishing you very best wishes. Check out my post on the eneryvibes blog of one of them HERE.
Abroad naturally we don’t hit the road so these festivals are organised in a venue and the best singer is selected.

book fans

the banner right in the goal

one of the Dande singers

chatting with booklovers

our Aruban authors collection


the Gaita group bringing the season ambiance

Searching for the right book & finding it

finally the winner, Rey di Dande 2011, courtesy of Photo Indio

BookIsh Plaza @ Festival di Dande

27 12 2011