The Ministry later clarified its position. It claimed that there are two theories about the origin of Nine Mornings. The one they have accepted, without telling us why, is that it was attributed to the “Novenas Catholics”, the Novena of the Catholic Church. Having made that declaration, they then go on to say that “the records from the Church itself suggest that the date of 1913 was the most probable date hence the embracing of 1913.” The stupidity of this statement needs no elaboration. They further compounded this by stating “that is the closest we can come to an approximation and starting date hence this year is a special year.”
Incidentally, I have come across another view of the origin of “Nine Mornings”. It attributes it to the Catholic Church. It puts the starting point at a date later than the official date recently proclaimed. It is from the Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices. Unfortunately, the author does not disclose his source, so we have to treat it like any other theory, yet to be proved. It reads as follows: “A particularly Vincentian celebration called the ‘Nine Mornings’ – originally Catholic but now celebrated by other Christians, including Anglicans – is held during the nine days before Christmas. According to tradition, the “Nine Mornings” originated in the 1920s when Carlos Verbeke (a Dominican priest in charge of St. Mary’s cathedral from 1919 to 1957) started celebrating a novena in the early morning hours instead of at midday, perhaps to take advantage of the people already being in the streets. Novenas, long customary in the Roman Catholic Church, are a devotion that is practiced over nine consecutive days as an act of thanksgiving or penitence. The Nine Mornings may also be the continuation and expansion of a tradition of merriment that dates back to the 1870s, when rival bands from different villages paraded in the streets of Kingstown.”
Why am I bothering myself about this? Is it not just another celebration? I stick for historical accuracy and resent the fact that you can take a nation and its people down a particular path with the statement that this is the closest we can come to an approximate date. This has now become historical truth. What other historical truths are there to be created? Once you are in this mindset, the next thing logically to do is to create other fictitious accounts of our history and culture. My big disappointment, however, is that this is apparently of little concern to most people.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.