mocko-jumbie.jpgCarnival in the US Virgin Islands is part of a long standing tradition beginning in June and culminating with the July 4th celebration of Cultural Day. The holiday features bike races, calypso shows, parades, fireworks and many festivities. The St. John celebration period encompasses Organic Act Day (third Monday in June), Carnival and Emancipation Day (July 3rd). The holiday commemorates the Danes freeing of the slaves in 1848.

The custom of celebrating Carnival has its origins in plantation times, although St. John did not officially celebrate its first carnival until 1928. The traditional figure associated with Virgin Islands carnival is the Mocko Jumbie, a shape-changing ghost-like figure, whose origins are traced to West Africa. The Jumbie traditionally appears at night and is known for terrifying those who have misbehaved. At carnival, the Jumbie customarily appears on stilts dressed in elaborate pants and jacket made of colorful silks and satins.