Lifestyle and Culture in Saint Barthelemy

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The people of Saint Barts are conservative and proud of their ancestry. Tradition and culture of St Barts awakens in the awesome moments of family life: birth, baptism, First Communion, engagement, marriage or funeral. During the 19th century, when the St Barts regained a semblance of normal life, young men randomly courted young girls under the chaperone’s eye.

For all the joyous ceremoniesthe accordion is taken out, the tambourine and the maracas and a little neighborhood ball was improvised where we tasted the traditional “ti-sec”, the roasted pancake or the potato pudding. For Sunday masses, romantic weddings and processions, beautiful toilets are worn. The traditional costume is always revered for the patronal feast and folklore ceremonies. A few years ago, you could still come across ladies wearing the native headdress.

Between the carriage and the straw hat at Corossol and Colombier and the panama at Cul de Sac, Marigot or Vitet, these headdresses are treated as a symbol. The carriage or Quichenotte, large white headdress, is distinguished in two categories:

  • The platinum carriage made of braids sewn together.
  • The stick carriage made of fine wooden sticks inserted into the spaces created for this purpose.

Later, the carriage paved way to the straw hat. There was also the made of blue fabric for work and black for outings. All these head covers were used to protect themselves from the sun and scratches from the wood collected up for the kitchen, but they were also very useful to keep away the few English and Swedish too enterprising, hence the name Quichenotte!

In general the mysterious: Marigolds, zombies, ghosts and other myths of the Antilles have only a weak hold on the culture here. On the other hand, several beliefs show proximity to nature: The song of the gligli announces death as life. He is the first to perceive if a woman is pregnant and denounces her, laughing insistently, beak turned towards her house, great right?!


  • The most common greeting is a handshake with direct eye contact coupled with a smile.
  • Dress well as this affords the host respect.
  • Don’t discuss business at social events unless prompted to.
  • It is considered good manners to reciprocate any social invitation.


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