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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Robert Johnson, 2020

Junkanoo is the national cultural festival of The Bahamas. Dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was brought to The Bahamas by enslaved Africans who used their three-day holiday to recreate festivals from home. An outlet for creative expression, today Junkanoo is mainly celebrated through parades that retain many African elements and are a grand spectacle of indigenous music, performances, storytelling and craftsmanship. Junkanoo is a celebration of unity, bringing together thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds in the creation of towering, colourful costumes with cardboard and crepe paper. The costumes are prepared in ‘shacks’, where the practitioners display their craft and transmit their knowledge to younger generations. The knowledge and skills related to the performance and the creation of costumes are also transmitted within families. The entire community plays a part in preparing youth for their rites of passage into Junkanoo. Junkanoo is incorporated into every major national event as a celebration, as entertainment, and as a traditional cultural expression. It fosters a sense of community pride, identity, companionship, spirituality and unity. Junkanoo is a celebration of creativity that refines the art of making beauty out of junk.