How Trinidad got a Summer

By  |  8 Comments

Have you ever heard a conversation go like this?

“Aye boss, yuh fixing dat ting for mih this week?”

“Yeah, doh worry yuhself, I home fuh de summer.”

Hold up… summer? Strange right? No one would EVER use the word summer in Trini, right? Probably back in your day, and that would have to be years ago. These days, most people use the word summer to describe the holidays that school children get every July and August, and happily use to populate clubs and malls across the country, when they’re not harassing their parents.

This term, summer, is all over our media. There are parties for the summer, sales for the summer, and songs for the summer. I’ve even heard some local artistes talk about dropping ‘summer singles’. At one time its use may have generated a ‘cut-eye’ or two, but at this point the term seems here to stay.

Officially, Trinidad has two seasons – a dry season from January to May and a wet one from June to December, which humorously reveals that what we commonly refer to as ‘summer’ is actually our rainy season. A consultation of Uncle Wikipedia reveals that summer in the US runs from the summer solstice (June 21st) to the equinox (September 23rd), which surprisingly overlaps with what we wrongfully perceive as summer down here.

This ‘summer’ of 2010 in particular has been almost spitefully wet, providing enough natural pools for dengue mosquitoes to move in, rear a family, and put down for college too. We are probably the only nation in the world that can boast of rampant flooding during our ‘summer’ season. So then, why do we hold onto the notion of summer and where did it come from? Unlike some people, I actually believe that most people aren’t stupid, so there is probably some good reason(s) for this misnomer, right?

 

“It’s not like we copy other ‘Yankee’ stuff down here, right?”

 

One interesting coincidence is that summer in the United States coincides with the period that we consider as summer. Could that be it? It’s not like we copy other ‘Yankee’ stuff down here, right?

Oh cable, I blame you for this. Years of slack-jawed, thumb-in-waist-band drooling in front of a box that flashes summer every year, around this time, have subliminally convinced our populace of this madness. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have men observing Thanksgiving too.

Additionally, many people from the US who have family in Trinidad tend to “take a summer vacation”, and come down here to compare and complain. Inside their complaints about bad service, no McDonalds, and how they can’t wait to go back (even though they ketchin’ dey tail up there), usually slips in some talk about summer, which we Trinis adopt like Angelina Jolie. You know how we can be with these things. I know people who mirror the accent of whom they’re speaking within minutes. People come down talking about their US summer in Trini, and then we feel we have summer. Boom bang, it’s as simple as that. It spreads, and then it sticks.

Another possible reason, which is also why I give people a bligh for using the word summer is that our seasons can be pretty messed up. There are years when the seasons seem back to front, with heavy rains in the first half of the year and blistering sun in the second, as opposed to vice versa. And even when we have rain during our rainy season, we get a day of heavy rain causing you to rush to buy an umbrella from some seedy vendor, and then heavy sun the next day forcing you to use the same umbrella for shade like some tourist. Sadness. No wonder people get their wires crossed, and end up walking around in hot sun, with scarves, all dressed for winter.

Summer schedules. Summer sales. Summer parties. Summer jobs. Google “Trinidad summer”, and you’d be surprised to see how many people in this wutlessness. If you’re one of those people who does tote feelings over the inaccuracy of the term, then by now your back should be strong.

Does all this talk of ‘summer’ bother you? That’s my question; so let me know. Face out.

 

Image credit: iStockphoto.com

 

David "Da Face" Hamilton

David Hamilton aka Da Face is a local hip hop artiste who moonlights as a blogger, when he's not trying to capture the hearts and ears of listeners with creative and positive music. He also maintains a blog called "Underground Trini Artiste", and often tries to represent and promote the lesser known artistes in Trinidad and Tobago.

8 Comments

  1. gwto

    August 30, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I used to use “summer” and was on the receiving end of many steupses and cut-eyes, but I am convinced that the reason is one that you haven’t mentioned.

    It’s easier to say.

    If you are having a long conversation about that period of the year, “summer” is a lot easier to say than “July August holidays” over and over again. And “holidays” on its own isn’t specific enough. I also disagree that the terminology spread strictly as an Americanism. Personally speaking, I used to read about the summer in many of Enid Blyton’s books. Cricket commentators globally mention the summer a lot also.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post (“we Trinis adopt like Angelina Jolie” HAHAH) but I think we’ll agree to disagree on this one.

  2. Anthony

    August 30, 2010 at 3:21 am

    I can’t wait for the Winter Sales, the Spring Fling and Fall Formals. Should be super exciting times here in the United States of Trinidad & Tobago.

  3. Nicole

    August 30, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I consciously and deliberately avoid it, probably because all through school our teachers would drum it into our heads that we don’t have a summer!

    This July/August I had a camp listing up on my website, and many people submitted their camp info as “Summer Camp” info, which I dutifully changed to “Vacation Camp” info!

  4. wuzdescene

    September 1, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Hearing the August holidays referred to as ‘summer’ really irks me …. but …. why sweat de small stuff right …. I’ve come tuh realise …. dat just like low-rise jeans …. TRINI SUMMER is here tuh stay!

  5. josanne

    September 8, 2010 at 3:51 am

    i come to realise that here in trini alot of any thing goes. its true dat there is only d wet or dry season. but ‘summer’ trini will take anything and make something out of it. you kno we like to follow. its time we embrace our own and make use of it.

  6. Carol Ramjohn

    July 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Part of the problem is we never had a good term for it. The August vacation is how I know it otherwise, and it covers July as well. It was pretty much a niche waiting to be colonised. Are there any good Trini terms for the period?

  7. OUTLISH Magazine

    July 12, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I find August vacation used to work good when I was small. Lol. – Karel

  8. C O A

    August 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    was thinking same today……Doesn’t make sense since we only have two seasons, and we have no snow and cold to compare to. THink centuries/millennia ago in Europe, they had to deal with ice and snow and then only a few warm months in summer. So makes sense Europe/North America has this summer thing as cultural norm. Trinidad doesn’t figure here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *