Today's post is a guest post written by Betsi of BetsiWorld.com I am excited to have her share from her travels through the Caribbean about Junkanoo and Christmas in the Bahamas. All photos are hers as well. – Katie
Christmas Season in the Bahamas
Christmas season in the Bahamas is similar to the traditions shared in many other countries. Putting up and decorating Christmas trees, and exchanging cards and gifts with family, friends, and neighbors are a central part of Christmas traditions. Going to Christmas church services also plays a vital role in the islands' holiday celebrations.
As in many countries, food is a vital part of the celebrations as well. Food and celebration are often synonymous with each other, and ginger beer, black cake, apples, grapes, and garlic pork are among the Christmas favorites.
Christmas is the kickoff to the one of the biggest celebrations of the year – Junkanoo. This annual festival takes place on December 26, Boxing Day. Boxing Day is a holiday with deep roots going back to the days of plantations and slaves.
Each Christmas, the plantation owners received beautiful hand-crafted wooden boxes filled with gifts from family and friends in England. After the boxes had been opened and the presents distributed, the boxes were then collected. The day after Christmas the boxes would be given to the plantation slaves.
Junkanoo also has deep roots, dating back to the 16th or 17th century. Following Christmas, the Bahamian slaves were given three days off, allowing them to leave the plantation and visit with family and friends.
These reunions would be filled with music, dance and lavish costumes. Junkanoo was an almost forgotten holiday after slavery was abolished. A smattering of islanders kept the tradition of Junkanoo alive, and it is now an essential part of the Christmas celebration in the islands.
Junkanoo is a powerful, energetic celebration that involves all ages. Homemade drums made from metal barrels keep a tempo, as cowbells, whistles and other instruments accompany the drums. Dancers, adorned in lavish, colorful costumes evoke ancient African dance moves as they jump, twirl and stomp their feet to the rhythm of the drums.
Junkanoo is indeed a celebration to rival all parties. Nassau holds the most famous Junkanoo in all of the Bahamas. Islanders come from all over, each vying for an opportunity to be a part of the biggest celebration in the islands.
Junkanoo celebrates a freedom – the freedom of three days the slaves had to visit their family and friends. I could not help but draw a parallel to our liberty in Christ as I sat on the sidelines of Junkanoo on Green Turtle Cay. Just as the music drives the dancers to freely express their joy and excitement, so it symbolizes freedom – freedom to show their love for Christ.
Betsi Hill is a professional travel writer, residing in Fort Pierce, FL, when she's not on board her Catamaran Gypsea. At BetsiWorld.com you'll find her blogging about creating, writing, food, taking photos, and exploring the old and new in and around Florida and the Caribbean. You can follow her adventures visually on Instagram or Twitter.