We recently visited the Junkanoo Museum in Nassau and actually got to participate in a recreation of the celebration by wearing headdresses, banging skinned drums, ringing cowbells and blowing whistles. We even got a taste of the official Junkanoo punch soda. It was loud, it was crazy and it was so much FUN!!
At this point I am sure you are wondering, "What the heck is Junkanoo?"
Well, If you are looking for an exciting way to spend the Christmas holidays try Nassau, Bahamas. Of course you already know about Beaches, Casinos and incredible water activities the Bahamas has to offer, but if you want to take part in something really unique go for the Junkanoo Festival. This celebration occurs on December 26 and January 1 -- beginning in the early hours of the morning (2:00 a.m.) and ending at dawn.
Junkanoo is reminiscent of New Orleans' Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, but it is distinctly Bahamian. This celebration began in the 16th and 17th centuries. The slaves in the Bahamas were given a special holiday around Christmas time when they would be able to leave the plantations to be with their family and celebrate the holidays with African dance, music, and costumes in a celebration of life, survival and strength of spirit.
The tradition continues today. Twice a year the locals parade down main street in costumes that are centered around a main theme. The key to a Junkanoo costume is that they all start with crepe paper cardboard and wire and then use other materials such as fabric, straw, sponges etc. depending on the theme of the festival. The more elaborate the costumes the better. Each costume consists of a headdress, skirt and a shoulder piece and some have weighed over 75 lbs.
In addition to the brightly colored costumes music is a major part of the Junkanoo festival. Horns, goat skin drums, cow bells and whistles create the beat as families, friends and neighbors gather within groups and perform together in the parade.
Tigger can't wait to actually get back to the Bahamas, put on a costume and dance till dawn for the full Junkanoo celebration.