Easter in Martinique is very popular because of the large number of Christians, especially Catholics on the island. Thus for generations, traditions have been passed down even if certain hazards make it more and more difficult to be respected. Easter in Martinique is being prepared from the first day of Lent, namely the Thursday following Ash Wednesday.
It is indeed on this date that the crab hunting is open. The men of the same family prepare if necessary, dobbies with wooden planks and nails. These dobbies will be used for catching crabs. The land crab is caught in rural areas, fields (cane or banana) or mangrove regions. For this purpose, the areas of the Atlantic center are the most popular (Vauclin, François, Robert, Trinité).
Crab was caught in the past mainly at night. As soon as night fell, the men would put the dobby holes over the crab holes (see photo opposite). The trap offers crabs a bait (food chosen by crab hunters) which, as soon as they have caught it, are then captured. The next day, they then returned to take the crabs from the crabs which they put in a cage. They would repeat the action until they had enough crabs for them and their families.
Once captured, the crabs are fed and "cleaned". That is to say that they are fed in such a way that they evacuate all the "waste" swallowed in the days preceding their capture. Crabs are fed on the leaves of breadfruit trees or on fruits and vegetables (mangoes, coconuts, peppers, cane, tomatoes, corn, etc.).
On Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, which marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for Christians, Martinicans Catholics go first with their families to mass and then to the various Stations of the Cross on the island making a pilgrimage by singing and praying. . At the end of more religious traditions, they prepare acras (local fritters) made from cod, shrimps, fish, sea urchins or other meats.
At Easter, the women prepare the traditional dish: matoutou. It is often up to men to kill crabs. The crabs are killed and then brushed. the shells are discarded or reused later for the preparation of stuffings served as a starter. The legs and claws are the essential ingredients of matoutou. They are seasoned with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, parsley. Some people prefer to let the preparation sit for several hours because the taste would only be better.
Then the crabs are cooked in the preparation with the addition of tomatoes cut into pieces and various local spices (colombo, pepper, bay leaf, cloves, allspice, etc.), according to convenience of course. Once the legs and claws turn orange, the crabs are ready to be eaten. Along with this, the rice is prepared. The rice is then mixed with the crabs and the matoutou is ready! The family can then sit down to eat.
Matoutou is eaten either on Easter Sunday, although tradition dictates that the meal on Sunday is family-friendly and consists of meats (rooster, goat stew, pork or mutton), or on Monday with the family by the beaches. On Easter Monday the beaches are taken by storm by Martinican families and you often have to get up very early if you want to have a table and benches. Some families anticipate several days in advance by pitching their tents on the beaches and camp there.
Often for dessert, men prepare coconut sorbets directly on the beaches with manual ice cream makers that they operate by grinding with the strength of their arms. Matoutou competitions are organized on a beach chosen at random.
They are called either the Patte d'or, competition at Pointe Marin or the Pince d'or which is held on Easter Sunday. If you want to go to the beach this Monday either you will have to leave very early or even be patient!
The Easter meal is also that of Whit Monday, also eaten by the sea.
Come on, Happy Easter everyone!