The Culture, Traditions, and Heritage of Suriname
Aligned with the cultural traditions of The Netherlands, Suriname has a multi-cultural heritage but it has no national culture of its own. Although its architecture is colonial Dutch in character, which is evident in central Paramaribo, especially the Presidential Palace, the influence of South America can be seen in the architecture of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, the biggest wooden structure built as early as the 19th century. Having a multi-cultural heritage, the country celebrates various and distinct festivals, which have something to do with religion and ethnic background, such as the Emancipation Day, Day of the Indigenous People, Immigration of the Javanese, or the Immigration of the Indians. The Surinamese people also hold Hindu national holidays such as the Divali and Phagwa and Islamic national holidays of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-adha based on the Islamic calendar but without specific dates of the year. On New Year’s Eve, the people observe “Qud jaar” or old year, when they flock to the city’s commercial district to watch fireworks and join a street party called café t vat. Before midnight they go home to light their own firecrackers to welcome the New Year, and resume street merrymaking until daybreak.
In marriages, Hindustani tradition expects the bride to be a virgin, but it is common for a man to have several partner or wives at the same time. While there are mixed marriages in Paramaribo, it is different in agricultural districts where traditions dictate that the parents select the partners for their children, and many marriage partners usually belong to the same ethnic group. After marriage, the woman is also allowed to work in subsistence agriculture but she cannot claim equal status with her husband.