Christmas in the Bahamas means family, feasting and Junkanoo. A spectacular festival of dancing, music and colorful costumed people, Junkanoo represents the essence of Bahamian culture. Held on Boxing Day (December 26, my B-Day!) and New Year's Day (January 1) from 2AM until dawn, the celebration features meticulously designed costumes worn by groups of 500-1000. Revelers dress and dance according to a top secret theme revealed only on Junkanoo Day. Music makes up the most significant and distinctive aspect of Junkanoo. The ryhthms of goatskin drums (Goombay,) copper cow bells and whistles, accompanied by a brass section drive the frentic and joyful atmosphere of the festival.
Costumes can take close to a year to complete and typically include an elaborate headress, shoulder and skirt. Most of the designs are created from crepe paper intricately glued to fabric, cardboard or wood.
Groups compete for cash prizes in the categories of best costume, best music and best overall presentation. The winning costumes are preserved for display in the Junkanoo Museum in Nassau.
No Christmas season celebration is complete without Santa and the jolly Junkanoo participant above delivers a totally Bahamian version of St. Nick. Happy Holidays to everyone!