Junkanoo is a Bahamian parade that features the local music and wholesale Christmas costumes. This festival has been compared to Mardi Gras with the way that everyone celebrates with much enthusiasm. The residents of the island come together as one large group to celebrate their freedom, their past and their culture.
Several larger groups compete for cash prizes each year in their costumes made from cardboard covered in tiny pieces of colorful crepe paper. The parade participants dance in the streets to the sounds of cowbells. This parade usually begins with a shotgun start at 2 a.m. on Boxing Day (December 26th) and New Year’s Day. The party continues until about 9 a.m., when the results of the parade are declared in Rawson Square. Your all inclusive resorts Bahamas concierge will be able to point you in the direction of the Square.
The stories that tell the origins of the Junkanoo festival are many. The most widely accepted version gives credit to an African prince and slave trader by the name of John Canoe. It is said that in the 17th century while he had control of Fort Brandenbury, the Dutch and English feared him. The African slaves viewed him as a hero and idolized him. When the slaves were brought to the Bahamas, they continued to worship him.
The slaves were allowed three days off each year, January 1st, December 25th and December 26th. This is why Junkanoo takes place on those particular two days. In 1938, December 26th was declared a public holiday and became known as Boxing Day due to the boxing and exchanging of gifts. If you are visiting the Bahamas during this exciting time of year, make sure that you bring plenty of presents that you can open on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day at your Bahamas vacation rentals.