Monday, 1 April 2013

Kite Flying tradition

It's Easter Monday....a holiday here.
Every Easter season, the skies are filled with kites of every description........kite flying is a part of Easter in our culture.
This is a tradition here on the island.
From my days as a child, we made our own home made versions with palm or coconut tree frond splines, and plastic or brown paper bags, as well as newspapers.  A "mad bull" (*) was also made for the top loop to "make nuff noise" when it was flown. The noise it emitted sounded like an airplane or lawn mower.
My brother and I would raid my mum's sewing box for reels of thread to fly our kites. We always hoped that we had chosen a colour she wouldn't miss, but invariably she would find out, especially since sometimes in our excitement we would leave the box open and the threads all messy. We always asked for rags to make our kite tails after the incident when we used dad's "old" shirt in our eyes to make our kite tails one year.
Some of the boys would attach a razor blade to the kite's tail and would skillfully manoeuvre its flight near to another kite in flight and cut it down, proving dominance over the skies.
Being a tomboy, I had to know how to make my own kite, and therefore would not allow the guys to make mine. I watched and learned, and I flew my kite high with the best of the "boys."
Bragging rights belonged to the one whose kite could fly the highest. Lots of friendly arguments ensued, but nothing like today's " pull a trigger to win the argument."  None of that at all.......lots of camaraderie..........we argued, laughed, hugged and then danced merrily across the pasture, being careful to avoid all the brown lumps of cow dung on the ground as we flew our kites.
Invariably, our kites would "pop" and we would go chasing after them in neighbouring villages as they lost altitude and swirled to the ground. I remember we'd go in a group calling out to neighbours that we wanted to retrieve our kites that had landed in their yards. Sometimes, we'd be offered a cold glass of juice or some candy. Sometimes no one was home, and we'd chance opening the gate, on the lookout for  a dog, and dash in and grab the kite, and be on our way. Sometimes, the dog would be awake keeping a watchful eye on us, and we'd have to forget about the kite and make another one.
Mum and dad always bought us "proper" kites as the Easter holiday weekend approached. These kites were made with coloured tissue paper with intricate designs, and needed twine to be flown.
We never left our kites hoisted out during the night. When mum said that we should be inside when the street lights came on, it meant with our kites in our hands.
Oh those were the days.
 Small kite booth
Now we have companies making kites, of all shapes, sizes and designs...and prices.
Bajan Kites...the website is here

Some traditions die, and some evolve and live on.....kite flying is still alive and well on the island. The breezes that we are still experiencing are making it a great time for kiters.
Long before school is out for the Easter holiday, the kids are out flying their kites.

Some kids (grownups included here) stake their kites out safely, once high in the sky, and leave them out overnight with a constant loud humming which the neighbours must contend with, except they find the kite themselves, since complaining to the parents (if they find them) does not always help the situation.
A few tourists to the island have been quite annoyed at this practice.  See here.
Locals as well are irritated by these noisy kites....see here and here.
I found this petition online.
On Easter Monday, many kite flying competitions (including inter-school) are staged. There are many categories for the entrants, and some of the kites are downright hilarious, and some bring awareness to various causes like HIV.  Many are sponsored by companies and various organizations on the island.
Last year, we had this 28 foot kite....
 ....which remained airborne for 45 minutes.

The main kite flying competition used to be held at the Garrison Savannah, but since this is located in the flight path of incoming planes, this is no more.
Aviation laws prohibit the flying of kites in these areas because of the danger posed to low flying aircraft.
The power company is also very strict in this regard with flying kites near to utility poles.

Stranded kite on a utility cable in the neighbourhood downhill from mine.

As I sit here, there is one extremely LOUD kite in the sky.  I hope it is not left out for the night!!!

 (*) A flap of tissue paper stuck to (usually) the top of the kite over a taught string on the kite frame. The bull flaps in the wind and makes that buzzing noise that Barbadian kites are known for.


  1. I love kites but reading about the noise of kites left out overnight made me think that people can be inconsiderate as well as intolerant.

    1. It's mostly kids that carry out this process of staking kites out at night. School restarted on Tuesday after the Easter break, and in my area, there are no more kites in the nights are quiet once more.

  2. I never thought of kites making noises but then I very rarely see any kites at all.

    1. You may be lucky in not having to live with a noisy kite for a couple of weeks.
      One day, I'd like to fly a kite while floating in a hot air balloon.


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