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Get Ready for Junkanoo

December 8th, 2009

New Year’s will soon be upon us, which means, at least for the Bahamas, the exciting and unrivaled Junkanoo!

Celebrated on New Year’s Day (and in some areas on Independence Day as well), the very popular Bahamian national festival involves: A riotous explosion of color, sound, movement and rhythm. A little like Mardi Gras, a little like Carnival and a little like a Mako Jumby festival, participating in Junkanoo (or just watching) is an experience you’ll not soon forget.

Flickr Photo Mosaic

Credit and info:

1. Bahamas Samurai. Junkanoo Festival. http://www.flickr.com/photos/8363028@N08/ / CC BY 2.0
2. Junkanoo Drumshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/vonseitz/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
3. Junkanoo Maskhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/kaplanbr/ / CC BY-SA 2.0
4. I See You!http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenia/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some fun Junkanoo facts:

  • Junkanoo involves a parade of masked dancers in bright colourful costumes who play music with goat skin drums, cowbells and whistles.
  • The most popular assumption of the celebration’s origin is that John Canoe, a beneficent plantation owner, allowed his slaves time off to celebrate on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and they named the celebration in his honour.
  • In 1966, the Junkanoo governing body ruled that all participants must be costumed, in order to take part in the parade on Bay Street
  • Troupes such as “Roots,” “Saxons” and “Valley Boys” compete for prize money and “preparation is a closely guarded secret and starts the day after the prior years festivities”.
  • “An open coffin or wheel barrow… with an old witch like person (representing the year gone by) is wheeled down the parade route. At its end the coffin is draped then undraped revealing the new year in the form of a beautiful island maiden.

Want a taste of Junkanoo? Take a look at the below video:

You can experience “playing” an instrument in the parade here.

For more information, see the official Junkanoo site.

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