Calendar Highlights: February 2009


Road March Tumba: The name comes from a 17th-century Spanish dance, and the rhythm is a combination of Afro-Caribbean, merengue and jazz beats. But the eclectic roots of Curaçao's most popular dance music come together at Carnival's Tumba Festival (Feb. 2-4 and Feb. 6). For three days, the island's best composers, singers and bands compete to have their pieces selected as the year's official Carnival Road March song. On the final day, a select few battle on the main stage for the role of Tumba King -- and royal recognition for the celebration.

Dessert Dedication For cream-filled, fruitpacked, chocolate-drizzled indulgence, try Iceland's Bolludagur Festival, or Buns Day (Feb. 23). Homes, restaurants and bakeries overflow with cream puffs made of butter, flour, eggs and chocolate. The sugar-infused tradition starts before breakfast. Children try to catch their parents still in bed, attacking them with colorfully decorated bolluvondur, or bun wands, while shouting, "Bolla, bolla! " Parents must pay up: one bun per whack. For- get bacon and eggs -- it's a day of dessert.

Happy Cows Clean your house and paint the horns of cows? At the end of the harvest season in Mauritius, Thai Pongal (Jan. 14-16) celebrates the Tamil New Year with a Hindu festival of cleansing, purification & thanksgiving to cattle. Pongal is derived from the Tamil word "to boil." Don't worry, the cows themselves aren't boiled -- instead, they are ritually washed, their horns are painted, and they enjoy a special boiled mixture of milk and freshly harvested rice. The practice symbolizes a plentiful harvest to the Mauritians -- and the best day of the year for cattle.