Junkanoo 2014!

A month in, and The Bahamas is treating us well. Our first major event here was Junkanoo. While we meant to go on both Boxing Day and New Years Eve, life got in the way. All of our stuff arrived from the states just before Christmas, and being the Type A human I am, I just couldn't function until all of the boxes were unpacked. And New Year's Eve is my birthday, so by 2am when Junkanoo begins on January 1st, I was ready for my day to end.

Lucky for me, and everyone else on the island, Junkanoo goes from 2am January 1st, until 12:30pm! That's right, they go for 10 and a half hours. Dancing and playing music in the streets; the drums are the end of the video were my favorite! So, when we woke up on New Year's Day we decide to run over and see the parade. Part of me wishes we had made it for the night's events, but the other part of me was glad I was able to experience it for the first time sober and in the comforts of day light. As for the performers, bless their hearts. It was hot as heck out there, and their amazing colorful costumes are made from crêpe paper! That's right, all the costumes in the video and photo below are made from paper. It was incredible to see what some of these guys were carrying around. I would die. It takes major dedication. And to know how many Bahamians are involved, and how they keep this tradition not just alive but growing, is truly inspiring.

They craziest part to me was that most of the costumes have messages attached. There were costumes at night protesting violence, asking for harsher punishments for murder, honoring Nelson Mandala, honoring victims of a recent shooting, and promoting peace. During the hours we saw, the costumes were mainly focused on America. This was striking. Here I am in another country, and they are praising my home. It's so interesting to see what they focused on. There were costumes honoring President Lincoln, the Underground Railroad, the Buffalo Solider, and President Obama. But there were also  costumes about Broadway, The Boston Tea Party, Baseball, ObamaCare, Gun Violence, Boston Strong, Independence, and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

The costumes were amazing and the music was upbeat and fun. A celebration of freedom and liberation. 

It's unclear it seems how Junkanoo started exactly but I took to Wikipedia (so reliable) for their answer:

"It is believed that this festival began during 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. After emancipation this tradition continued, and junkanoo has evolved from its simple origins to a formal, more organized parade with sophisticated, intricate costumes, themed music, and incentive prizes."

(I was told they originally made their costumes out of newspaper. After emancipation they began to use the colorful crêpe paper.)

Junkanoo is definitely something I will do again, and I suggest everyone joins in on the fun!