Rushin' To Junkanoo
- New Year's Day
Junkanoo - Centuries
of History and Tradition
The exact origins are unknown, but the most popular version is that John Canoe, a beneficent plantation owner, allowed his slaves time off to celebrate on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Thus the slaves named the celebration in his honour.
Originally celebrated on Christmas Day morning as well as the 1st of January, Junkanoo was widely opposed by Bahamian church groups as sacriligious due to its wild revelry on the 25th of December. In the later 1930's, the Junkanooers and churches moved the first of the two "Junkanoo Days" to the British holiday of "Boxing Day" - the 26th of December. Banned again in the early 1940's for insiting riots, the spectacle was officially recognized as a Nassau tourist attraction in the late 1940's, and has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity (both domestic and worldwide) over the last 5 decades. In the 1990's, Junkanoo is celebrated on the majority of The Bahamas' most populated islands and settlements, and can be enjoyed in the Abacos on Green Turtle Cay as well as Marsh Harbour.
This form of celebration was brought to The Islands of The Bahamas in the 16th and 17th century by African slaves. The exact origins are unknown, but the most popular version is that John Canoe, a beneficent plantation owner, allowed his slaves time off to celebrate on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Thus the slaves named the celebration in his honour.
Junkanoo has not always been appreciated for its cultural nature, however. In 1899, an Act placed it in the Street Nuisance category and, during the early 1900s, the festival was opposed by the churches. They thought it was sacrilegious to hold it on Christmas Day. But a compromise was reached in 1938, declaring Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) a public holiday, and junkanoo was moved from Christmas morning to Boxing Day morning.
At one point in 1944, junkanoo was made illegal, following riots in 1942. It was reinstated in Nassau on January 1, 1948, after it received official recognition as a tourist attraction. A year later, awards were introduced to bring about a more orderly celebration and promote the art of costume design. Over the years, Junkanoo costumes have evolved from fabric, palm leaves, newspaper and coloured glass into a beautiful, elaborate, hand-made costumes of crepe paper adorned with sequins and rhinestones.
In the mid 1970s the trend of making junkanoo parades part of social activities at hotels was initiated by the social director at the former King's Inn, now Bahamas Princess Resort & Casino.
parades are held throughout the Bahamas on Boxing Day and New
Year's Day. Green Turtle's event provides a festive, cultural
experience for both visitors and locals. The layout of the parade
provides visitors a front-row view of the festivities and the
carnival atmosphere gives them an opportunity to sample native
food and drink and interact with people from the community come
mainly to cheer on their favorites.
Junkanoo - As
Modern As Today's Music
Your Reservations As Early As Possible For 2000!
celebrants (above left pix is Bert Reckley's "Sea Garden" in New Plymouth).
patron's home country (above) covers many of the walls in the Green Turtle Club's Pub.
and great island drinks!) - New Year's Eve 1997. Yes, it was a bit chilly - about 60° F.