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Cultural Connection: Junkanoo

Written by on December 31, 2020

Out of respect for our ancestors who went through a lot of hell we must preserve one of the most cultural expressions to survive the times! It’s one of the pieces of our journey as a people that surely needs to be more highlighted from our culture. There should be plenty more Saxons, and Valley Boys all over the South in America, and the Caribbean and the entire Atlantic slave trade route. Now for those of you who may be disconnected from what Junkanoo is, here is where we make the Cultural Connection.

Junkanoo is a street parade with music, dance, and costumes of mixed African and Native Indian origin. The festival originated during the days of slavery in the Caribbean and America, when enslaved descendants of Africans and Native Indians on plantations celebrated holidays granted around Christmas time with dance, music, and costumes.

After emancipation the tradition continued and junkanoo evolved from simple origins to a formal, organised parade with intricate costumes, themed music and official prizes within various categories. The Bahamas has one of the most elaborate celebrations of Junkanoo of those that exist.

On many islands across the English speaking Caribbean every Boxing Day (26 December) and New Year’s Day (1 January) these cultural parades are predominantly showcased in the Bahamas where the music is also mainstreamed, and competition results are hotly contested. There are also Junkanoo parades in Miami in June and Key West in October, where local black populations have their roots in the Caribbean. In addition to being a culture dance for Afro-North Carolinians and the Garifuna people, this type of dancing is also performed in The Bahamas on Independence day and other historical holidays.

Dances are choreographed to the beat of goatskin drums and cowbells.

There is also a undeniable influence of Junkanoo on the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mummers Parade traces back to mid-17th-century roots, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German, and other European heritages, as well as African heritage.

This years Junkanoo four-day celebration that always runs between Boxing Day, 26th December and New Year’s Day 1st January unfurtunately have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Take in the 2020 Junkanoo celebration from the Bahamas.

Take in the Philadelphia Mummers (LIVE) New Years Day


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