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JunkanooWhile all the world is recovering from Christmas - or quietly celebrating Boxing Day on December 26th - this Bahamian festival kicks off with a loud, colorful celebration that only begins in the wee hours of the morning ....

Junkanoo starts in the dark hours on December 26th on 2AM and lasts until sunrise. The following week, it happens all over again, with another parade that lasts into the light of the first day of the New Year.

The origin of the word Junkanoo is obscure, although legend has it that it comes from the French, L'inconnu ("unknown") in reference to the masks paraders often hid behind.

Others say that the word has its origins in "John Canoe," a tribal chief who insisted on keeping his African heritage alive after being brought to the Bahamas in slavery.

Junkanoo probably began in the 16th or 17th century by slaves who were given permission to roam free and celebrate during Christmas time.

Learn more about Junkanoo at Bahamas.comAfter slavery was abolished, Junkanoo (being no longer a celebration of freedom) almost disappeared as an annual ritual. However, a few island party lovers kept the tradition intact.

So much so that today Junkanoo is practically a Bahamian institution, sometimes criticized for being more of a spectator event and less an "all hands" participatory one by most islanders.

Still, Junkanoo is something to see...

Today, much like Carnaval and Mardi Gras, colorfully decked-out troupes compete for awards like "Most Colorful, and "Most Artistically Designed" leading up to the top prize..."Best Overall Presentation."

Among the most famous Junkanoo parade troupes are the Saxons, Valley Boys, and "Roots" who vie for prize money totaling into the thousands of dollars.

An especially spectacular Junkanoo parade occurs in Nassau, with some of the best views on Bay Street. However, equally jubilant parades are also held on Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Bimini and Abaco.

The celebration has even spilled over to Bahama Independence Day when colorful Junkanoo parades take place on some of the islands.

On the Web, find out more about this special end-of-year celebration in the Bahamas along with its music, its colorful costumes & parades, and the traditions and history behind Junkanoo that make it so special....

More about Junkanoo around the Web: - The official site for all things Junkanoo including extensive photo galleries, event schedule, parade participants, history, FAQs and trivia, plus travel info and overviews of all the islands from Abaco to the Out Islands.

Bahamas Junkanoo - Good read on parades, groups, music and history, and check out the 30-second video clips for a virtual taste of Junkanoo, from the Bahamas Gateway...


also see in Travel -> 10 Top Caribbean Romantic Spots

also see in Holidays -> Bahamas Independence Day

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