The Junkanoo Carnival
Junkanoo is a festival or Carnival where people parade on the streets, dancing and singing in different towns of the Bahamas and they do this in their different costumes and the festival takes place on Boxing Day which is December 26 every year. Although Junkanoo is a festival that takes place in the Bahamas, there are also Junkanoo festivals and carnivals in Miami and Key West in Florida where those who are of Bahamian descent organize their own Carnival of the same name, the largest one yet is still that which is Celebrated in the Bahamas.
History Of Junkanoo In The Bahamas
There have been some long lasting debates on the real origin of both the meaning of the word ‘Junkanoo’ and the festival as well. Some people believe it was started by a West African who became a local hero in the Bahamas, there are also those who believe its name is derived from the French words ‘gens inconnus’ meaning ‘masked people or unknown’.
Scholars on the other hand suggest both the name and the festival itself might have originated from the Igbo people of the South-Eastern Nigeria.The Igbo people of Nigeria have this deity known as Njoku Ji which also has to do with the celebration of the New Yam Festival, and they also have a masking and costuming tradition known as the Okonko, which feature masked characters that are similar to those seen at the Junkanoo festival. This theory is very interesting given that the Bahamas and other Caribbean countries who practice festivals that look like the Junkanoo have a high percentage of people whose descents are of the Igbo community in Nigeria.
The Junkanoo festival is believed to have started about 500 years ago, and it started when those enslaved in the Bahamas would be given permission to leave the plantations and go celebrate the the Christmas holidays with their family. They would dance and sing their African dance and songs and wear costumes of African origins, this might be to always remind them who they are and what they left behind. After the abolition of Slavery, the tradition continued and Junkanoo was born, emerging from the simple and casual to the well organized and an internationally recognized Carnival it is now.
The Bahamas happens to be blessed with lots of lively party and tourists destinations where the Junkanoo festival can be celebrated. There is the Nassau Paradise Island, there is the Riu Palace Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island as well as The Abacos. Where ever it is you find yourself in the Bahamas during the Junkanoo Carnival, it is guaranteed