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

Officially, Junkanoo starts 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.

After 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.

The day after Christmas -- and the week following -- is when to let loose during tradiitional
junkanoo parades and celebrations througout the Bahamas.. photo courtesy

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.

also see in Travel -> Bahamas Tourist Attractions

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:

Junkanoo - Check out the Wikipedia page for all things Junkanoo including photo galleries, parade participants, history, and trivia,


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also see in Holidays -> Bahamas Independence Day

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