Caribana, or as it's officially called these days, the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, is a time of joyous festivities in the city. Though it's best known for its stunning parade that winds along Lakeshore Boulevard, the actual celebrations take place over three weeks, honouring the music, food, visual arts and more from the Caribbean communities that help make up Toronto's diverse population.
Of course, the Caribbbean population is made up of plenty of different backgrounds as well, influenced by the many people who came to the island from France, England, Spain and Africa, to name just a few. According to Ethnologue.com, there are currently 23 living languages in the 28 areas that make up the Caribbean.
So as millions of people stream downtown to join in all the fun, they might just discover people speaking a different language entirely, one made up of this melting pot culture that embraces joy, eating and dancing with very open arms.
In preparation for the weekend, we've put together a cheatsheet of words you'll want to know, thanks in part to Carnaval.com. Have some important Caribana words or phrases of your own to add? Let us know in the comments below.
Aye-yah-yie - Likely stemming from Spanish, this phrase means "oh boy" or "oh wow" — it's all in the intonation.
Bacchanal - The term bacchanal, which means a wild party and is basically a description for the whole Caribbean festival, can be traced back to the Roman saturnalia, according to Carnaval.com. It probably gained popularity thanks to Kerwin Du Bois' "Bacchanalist."
Bess - This word often means hot (as in, a descriptor of someone's attractiveness) or just plain awesome.
Calypso - This Afro-Caribbean music often involves a moral tale or a political commentary, set to can't-help-but-dance-to-it beats. There are hundreds of musicians, but probably the best known in North America would be Harry Belafonte.
Canboulay - A celebration of the abolition of slavery with costumes and drumming, this traditionally takes place on August 1, but in recent years, has become part of the Carnaval celebrations in the spring.
Dutty - Literally, dirty, but it can be meant in either a positive or negative way.
Fête - We know this one! French for party, many of the events surrounding the festival are known as fêtes.
Get On Bad - Dance like crazy, have a good time (like everyone you'll see at the parade).
J'ouvert and Jab Jab - J'ouvert is the opening of the Trini Carnaval, with people dressed as "Jab Jabs," painted devils that are part of the local lore. Jab Jab J'ouvert also happens to be the name of the massive opening party for Caribana, so people may just be referring to that.
Jump Up - It means what it says! Get up and dance with the people in the mas band (see below).
Lime/Liming - Hanging out. Spots in the Caribbean have "no liming" signs, instead of "no loitering," according to Matador Network.
Mas' (Masquerade) Band - Each theme group is a band, explained the CBC, which includes music, a float, costumes and people jumping up.
Soca - Soca is like calypso's younger, party-hardy cousin. It's infused with a bit of soul, and made to be danced to, especially at carnival time.
Wine/Whining - Sexily dancing by moving your waist and hips, perhaps best demonstrated by Barbadian beauty Rihanna (and many, many others).