Jouvert, a French contraction which translates to English as dawn/ day break is the official start to Carnival masquerade celebrations and parades.
Bucket HeadMiami Carnival 2015 Jouvert
I was told when I was growing up (so please don’t quote me without doing your own research) that J'ouvert started when the less fortunate members of society couldn’t afford to pay for and participate in “Pretty Mas”. Ambitious villagers would cover themselves in mud, oil, paint, powder or anything "dutty" and/or repulsive. They will come out in the early hours of the morning before the parade dressed in their cheaply made costumes; most times, portraying devils and imps. They created their own street music using instruments of bottle and spoon, bamboo, beating on biscuit tins and old car rims. They threatened to rub their "dutty" bodies on well dressed pretty masqueraders going to meet up with their bands. The only thing that would save you from soiling your costume was to “pay the devil". The J'ouvert masqueraders would chant phrases like “Yuh ‘fraid de devil yuh ‘fraid him bad”and “pay de devil, Jab Jab”. This scared pretty masqueraders to pay the "dutty" revellers and allow for safe passage to unite with the rest of their pretty mas band members.