Junkanoo is the second largest and brightest festival of the world following the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. You will never see the Festival of Junkanoo anywhere else. Only the Bahamians know exactly how to turn this holiday into the brightest and most breathtaking event of the year. People of the Bahamas make preparations for the charming night of the Festival a whole year round. The dancers work on choreography, the musicians devise and rehearse songs and melodies, and the costumiers are extremely busy creating special and unique clothes.
The Festival of Junkanoo is a real competition with its rules, judges and prizes, so the rivalry is usually fierce enough. The Festival parade typically includes 15 groups, the most popular being One Family, The Explorers, Saxons, Valley Boys, Musical Kings and Roots. Each group annually selects a topic for the Festival of Junkanoo and then starts working. It is necessary to devise dresses, dances, music, words and a lot of other details, all of them being obligatory adjusted with the topic. The range of topics astonishes the fancy: it may vary from something as archaic as ancient Egyptians to the things as modern as astronauts.
As the sum of a prize is large, the topic is always kept in strict confidence. Each group usually consists of 500-1000 members, including families, friends and neighbours. The Festival of Junkanoo begins at 2 a.m. and lasts till dawn. All through this time you may enjoy the beauty of the parade, listen to the music and even dance with the Festival participants. It will bring you even more pleasure to take part in the Festival yourself. The only thing you need to do is buy a special garment in the nearest shop.
Actually, Junkanoo Festival is a reflection of the Bahamian culture and original customs to be absolutely unique due to the influence of mingled nations. Long ago Britains, Americans, Africans, people from Caribbean Islands, Chinese, Syrian and Greek immigrants moved to the Islands. And they all- with their diverse traditions, beliefs and world outlook - formed a colorful Bahamian lifestyle.
To tell the truth, nobody knows where the word 'Junkanoo' came from. Some people think it roots in the name of John Canoe, who was brought to West India in slavery, but even there was allowed to celebrate Christmas like in his homeland. Others say the word 'Junkanoo' origins from the French lexeme 'l'inconnu' ('unknown') proving their version with the fact that Junkanoo attire includes masks, which make their owners unrecognizable.
One of the essentials of the Festival is music. The traditional music of the Islands is goombay combining in itself African music customs and elements of European culture. In the previous centuries slaves could make their musical instruments only from useless goods and goatskin. Nowadays, the bands use saxophones, electric guitars and other inventions of technological revolution, along with traditional drums.
If you have decided to visit the Bahamas do not forget to walk through one of Bahamian forests in search of chickcharnie. This fairy birdlike elf with red eyes, three fingers, three toes and a tail is a much respected creature, which is believed to bring happiness. So, if you see any chickcharnie while walking around show it your admiration - and you will be blessed with good luck for the rest of your life. Generally, Bahamian people have a bulky baggage of beliefs, weird at times, and they will confide them to you with great pleasure.
When on the Bahamian Islands, you will definitely have a rest distinguished by a deal of unforgettable impressions, new knowledge and a couple of mysteries, which you may try to solve. Every vacation in the Bahamas is full of excitement and fun, positive emotions and adventures.