Photo credit: Errol Bodie, Flickr

The origins of the Bahamian Boxing Day festival of Junkanoo are hotly debated. Some say it was established by John Canoe, a West African prince who outsmarted the British; some say its etymology is from the French “gens inconnus,” or “unknown (‘masked’) people”; others claim that settlers to the Bahamas in the late 1800s brought African slaves with them who were given a short holiday during the Christmas season and celebrated with a festival that became known as Junkanoo. To this day there are street parades, costumes, masks, singing and dancing.

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