What Is the Culture of Martinique (and What Are the Traditions)?

Martinique’s culture is one of a quirky mix and a diversity of influences that seem to reverberate across its interesting colorful society today. Occupied by the French since its discovery the island is now home to 374,745 people that proudly call this island one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. The original name of “Madinina” is even a testament to that.
What Is the Culture of Martinique
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From old pre-colonial traditions, Afro-Caribbean influences, and metropolitan French cuisine, the island is just the perfect blend of European decadence and tropical island haven, with a big splash of color. And, when you find yourself booking a ticket to Martinique, be sure to pack some French.

What Influences Are Found in the Martinique Culture?

There are three main, and probably the most evident cultural influences that you can observe in Martinique: Amerindian, from the Arawak and Carib Indian people, African, from the former slave population, and European, from France.

This is what makes Martinique interesting, the blend of cultural influences embedded in their history from centuries of occupations, slavery, and eventually social development. The island’s diverse ethnic mix is also one of the biggest influencers of present-day Martinique, from the African Caribbeans, Carib Indians, mixed white Europeans, Lebanese, Indians, and even Chinese.

The island’s long history and diverse population, predominated by African Caribbeans with a heavy French touch have turned Martinique into an interesting blend of colorful cities, rich food, and good music all with a backdrop of the island’s lush greenery, colorful floras, and the majestic Caribbean Sea.

What Is the Main Religion in Martinique?

Since the French occupation, the Roman Catholic faith has been a longstanding religious influence on the island. However, in recent years other sects or denominations of Christianity have permeated the island’s predominantly Catholic status quo. Evangelical Protestantism like the Seventh Day Adventist, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, has seen growth in influence and strength.

Along with Catholicism, and a few other Christian denominations, Jewish and Muslim minorities are also present on the island possibly brought by immigrants over the years, like other Europeans and the Lebanese.

Another notable system of belief and practice has taken root on the island since the days of slavery. Quimbois has existed alongside Christianity brought to the island by African slaves. This particular religion encompasses the use of plant and herb remedies, sorcery, and spiritual healing, which has been embedded for the longest time amongst the African Caribbean population.

Hinduism is another religion on the island that is still lived through the immigrant minority coming from south India. You can check out interesting temples and shrines, complete with statues adorned with garlands, and the dominating scent of burning incense. Hinduism and Quimbois both exist alongside the dominant Catholic faith.

This diversity in faith and religion has contributed much to the island’s interesting and diverse culture that seems to be one of the island’s draws – despite it being fully governed by France. A visitor coming to the island will certainly find, albeit being a predominantly Catholic Island, that Martinique is an interesting blend, socially and culturally.

What Is the Most Popular Religion in Martinique?

Established and influence by the French that have ruled over the island for most of the history of Martinique, up until the modern-day, Roman Catholic is the predominant religion. Roman Catholicism, despite coexisting beside other religions and other Christian denominations, is still the most popular faith in Martinique.

What Is the Official Flag of Martinique?

Being an overseas department of France, Martinique‘s official national flag is the French flag, also known as the Tricolored Flag (Le Drapeau Tricolore), adorned with the colors of white, blue, and red. The French flag’s colors famously represent freedom, equality, and brotherhood, respectively.

Although the island adopted the French flag, Martinique also has another unofficial flag often used in international sporting and/or cultural events. The Ipséité, chosen by the president of Martinique in 2019.

Another interesting or rather controversial piece of the country’s identity. First off, the flag is a standard rectangular bi-colored flag dominated by the colors of white and blue. The center of the flag is depicted with a white cross that stretches from the top to bottom and left to right, creating four blue squares with white snakes on them.

What Does the Martinique Flag Represent?

The Ipséité, chosen by the president of Martinique in 2019 depicts an Aliger gigas, or Lambi, a symbolic shell of the Antilles traditionally used as a musical instrument in the center.

34 stars around it symbolize the 34 municipalities of Martinique and eight segments represent eight of the different languages spoken on the island, namely, French, Creole, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, and Arabic. Blue refers to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, while green recalls steep hills and the nature of the territory.

The controversial Snake Flag of Martinique depicts a bi-colored flag dominated by the colors of white and blue. The flag depicts a large white cross that stretches across a blue field, creating four blue squares with white snakes on them.

The Snake flag is a banner of the French military of Martinique adopted as an ensign in 1766. According to an edict in 1689, merchant vessels should hoist a blue ensign with a white cross – such was used in numerous French ports. When a civil ensign was used to dock in a colony, a distinctive emblem was added in each of the blue squares – in this case, the fer-de-lance snake.

Why Does Martinique Flag Have Snakes?

The Snake flag is a banner of the French military of Martinique adopted as an ensign in 1766. According to an edict in 1689, merchant vessels should hoist a blue ensign with a white cross – such was used in numerous French ports. When a civil ensign was used to dock in a colony, a distinctive emblem was added in each of the blue squared – in this case, the fer-de-lance snake.

The Snake flag used to symbolize Martinique as a colony of France, along with Saint Lucia, although the flag was never flown in Saint Lucia, and Martinique was administered from there. The flag is, however, considered an insult, and was taken out of official use.

What Do You Call Someone From Martinique?

If you ever meet someone from Martinique, keep in mind that they are called Martinican, or Martiniquais. The latter term is also used for something of, from, or related to the island of Martinique.

What Are Martinique Traditions?

Due to its rich mix of influences, diverse ethnic demographic, and natural beauty that draws tourists in, Martiniquais living and its traditions are some of the most colorful, religious, and interesting across the Caribbean.

One of the quirkiest traditions in Martinique is the “gommier”. A traditional vessel, that is still being constructed today using the same techniques from previous centuries dating back to the earliest settlers on the island. Derived from the Gomme tree, a rubber from which the boats are carved.

Another interesting social tradition in Martinique is the “codomain” – generous service and freely given. A blend of European societal culture, with a generous blend of African attitudes, this is a social custom that compels the Martiniquais to a life communal life where people help and be generous to each other.

Indian influences that remain and are still prevalent on the island, are the usage of the “madras” tissue and the common use of spices, especially Colombo, in meat preparation. The island is rich in color, from clothes to its famous flowers.

A rich infusion of Afro-Caribbean twists and French cuisine, Martinique’s food is also something to show off as well. Especially if you meet locals who would have you try the island’s proud cuisine, you’ll be in for a treat that involves centuries of mix and influences.

One notable traditional attitude you’ll quickly notice with the Martiniquais is their warmth and hospitality. Martinicans are famously friendly and respectful eager to show the beauty of their island, from their culture to the natural characteristics of the land.

What Is the Traditional Dance From Martinique?

With a rich blend of cultures and thanks to the number of Afro-Caribbean people, you can expect an abundance of creole traditions in Martinique and the rest of the Lesser Antilles.

The bélé folk dance and music from Martinique and a slew of other Caribbean islands. It is an old creole dance that came from the French West Indian Islands, that has its roots in African fertility dances. The bélé dance is usually performed during full moon evenings, or during funeral wakes.

What Is Martinique Musical Styles?

Martinique, together with Guadaloupe has interesting musical styles that have a certain blend of traditional music that was drawn from their African roots. The islands’ musical styles are characterized by traditional music, with heavy percussion background rhythms, together with bamboo flute, accordion, and kazoo.

The Couval bwa, a Martinican musical style is usually played in rural areas for celebrations and other holidays. This percussion-based musical style is led by a tanbour drummer and the ti bwa, a percussion made out of bamboo.

Martinican popular music is the Biguine, Kadans, and Zouk – to which Martinique and Guadaloupe are famous. Biguine is clarinet and trombone-based with two distinct types. The drum biguine, and the orchestrated biguine. This musical style has evolved straight out of string band music and eventually spread to mainland France in the 1920s.

What Is the National Sport of Martinique?

Martinicans love their running and team sports, like volleyball, and football, however, what is generally considered to be the national sport is football. Probably yet another European influence, football is the island’s leading sport and some leading players of the French football team are of Martiniquais heritage.

Even though it is an overseas department of France, the island’s national football team are members of the CONCACAF – North American federation, where they participate in competitions, like the Gold Cup, but their status with France excludes them from FIFA.

Other than football, another sport that is widely famous on the island is the round skiffs races – these are traditional wooden boats built for fishing. This is considered a traditional sport as the round skiffs sailing is an activity that can be traced back to pre-colonial times.

What Is the Most Popular Sport in Martinique?

Often considered as the national sport, the island’s most popular and leading sport is football. The men of the island are huge fans, and avid followers of the sport, where every football match on tv is celebrated and watched by families, to the point where streets become quiet for a time.

What Animals Live in Martinique?

On top of having a colorful and diverse flora, the island also boasts a wide range of fauna. A diverse set of animal species call the island home, from birds, shellfish, to even small lizards, and the famous lancehead snake, a Martinique native. If you go to any of the islands around the Caribbean, you’ll soon notice that each one is teeming with biodiversity, and Martinique is no different.

One notable bird species in Martinique is the Martinique Oriole, an exquisite blackbird, characterized by a reddish-brown tail, belly, and backside. The whistles it marks are considered to be unique and beautiful by many bird lovers and watchers.

Martinique has its fair share of reptiles in its forests, especially snakes and small lizards. The Martinique Threadsnake, Racer Liophic, and the Lancehead are just some of the notable snake species on the island. The island is also home to the Lesser Antillean Iguana and the Green Iguana, some of the small lizard species.

One famous mammal on the island is the mongoose. The small mammal’s history on the island is one born out of necessity. They were imported to the island to reduce the population of lancehead snakes, but then, took a wrong turn as the mongooses destroyed many of the island’s endemic bird species.

What Is the National Animal of Martinique?

Often considered as the island’s national bird, the Martinique Oriole is also an endemic species to the island and other parts of the French West Indies. The Oriole bird’s habitats are usually on subtropical and tropical forests, where Martinique is abundant.

What Is Martinique National Bird?

Often considered as the island’s national bird, the Martinique Oriole is also an endemic species to the island and other parts of the French West Indies. The Oriole bird’s habitats are usually on subtropical and tropical forests, where Martinique is abundant.

What Is Martinique’s Most Popular Export?

On top of sugar, and rum, Bananas are the most popular export products of Martinique. Despite being one of France’s official departments, most of Martinique’s banana exports are sent to mainland France and other neighboring European countries.

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