The Essence of Costumes and Music

Culture of Junkanoo

A cultural experience filled with vibrant colors, experienced mostly throughout the island of the Bahamas. Firstly Bahamian culture is mainly a mix of European and African, Junkanoo connects us to our ancestors and roots, we learn passed down traditions and appreciation.The important aspects of Junkanoo are the costumes and music without this two there wouldn’t be a Junkanoo. Junkanoo is a way our ancestors passed down traditions, it’s a parade of color consisting of music, dancing and costumes.

Music

Junkanoo is also a national festival that we celebrate in Grand Bahama. It is a vibrant of colors and sound.  The steady sounds of cowbells, goat skin drums and whistles, followed by an array of brass instruments, that creates a sweet musical beat that will move you; while bright colored costumes capture your eye, and bring visual delight.

Evolution of Costumes (Then and Now)

Over the past years Junkanoo has evolved so much, most of the changes have occurred in the area of costumes. People went from using shrubs, stones, and tissue paper to using cardboard, aluminum rods, and crepe paper. Junkanoo costumes have come from a long way, from the early slave days up to the present year. In the early Junkanoo days, the slaves in the Bahamas made their costumes from any material which they could find such as shrubs, leaves, stones, bottles and paper. By the late 20’s, when sponging was big business in the Bahamas many Junkanooers covered themselves totally in sea sponges! ” By the mid-thirties, the whole costume was fringed. Soon, the costumes were fringed, not in cloth, by newspaper, then multi-colored crepe paper. Also it wasn’t until the sixties that women participated in Junkanoo! In the early Junkanoo days, the slaves in the Bahamas made their costumes from any material which they could find such as shrubs, leaves, stones, bottles and paper. Most costumes portrayed Neptune and Amphitrite which were a symbol for John Canoe.



Junkanoo was always a way to celebrate for our ancestors and the little freedom that they had they made the most of it, the way they dressed and painted their faces were for spiritual reasons and rituals. Junkanoo was a time for them to be free and celebrate. Now that centuries have past and things have changed junkanoo isn’t how it use to be there isn’t any feelings to it, and now it’s more of a fashion show or competition and it’s rehearsed, it has no more meaning to it. Junkanoo has changed over the years.