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Understanding Bahamian Culture

man blowing whistle wearing colorful junkanoo

Millions of tourists flock to The Bahamas each year looking for an island escape filled with sea, sand, and sun. While we love sharing our home to travelers far and wide, many miss out on the opportunity to truly experience an authentic part of Bahamian culture. We’ve prepared this piece to share a little bit about Bahamian culture, and hope that it will motivate you to come and explore the islands a little more. We are a Bahamas tour operator that is focused on providing an authentic taste of The Bahamas, so if you’re looking for a tour off the beaten path, check out our offerings.

 

Brief History

The Bahamas were originally inhabited by Lucayan Indians who thrived by fishing and trading with nearby islands. Christopher Columbus met the island in 1492, after which, Spanish colonists captured and enslaved much of the Indigenous population. English settlers moved to the Bahamas in the late 1600s, eventually becoming a British colony in 1718. However, following the American Revolutionary War, many African slaves were brought to the island. Slavery was abolished in The Bahamas in 1834, becoming a haven for many African and Seminole individuals. The country gained independence as a British colony state in 1973.

When learning about Bahamian culture today, it is essential to understand The Bahamas as a mix of all the cultures that have contributed to its history. We founded Grum Ma’s House Cultural Center as a space to preserve and share the unique heritage of The Bahamas with visitors and locals alike, find out more here, or come and see for yourself! Elements of all of the historical influences can be seen in every aspect of Bahamian culture, from cuisine, art, music, dance, and the laidback stereotypes that many associate with the locals. If you’re looking for Freeport Bahamas excursions that show the local side of the island, take a look at our Day Under the Bahama Sun Tour. It is the perfect opportunity to get out of the city and away from the crowds to discover the hidden wonders with a local, knowledgeable guide.

 

Celebrations

There are many celebrations throughout the calendar year in The Bahamas. If you’re lucky enough to have experienced a Junkanoo parade on one of the islands then you’ll understand the love that locals and tourists alike hold for Bahamian holidays (but we will get to that later). Independence Day is celebrated on July 10th as the day that The Bahamas officially separated from Britain. Often a week of festivities will lead up to the day with parades, special Bahamian food, fireworks, and other events.

With a large Christian population, Easter and Christmas holidays in The Bahamas are just as important in bringing together families and friends. For Christmas, the season traditionally begins at the lighting of the tree in Nassau. During Easter, many attend church services and let the delicious seafood of the islands shine on the dining table. Boxing Day and New Year’s celebrations involve more Junkanoo parades and beach parties that run late into the evening and early morning. So you’re probably wondering, what is Junkanoo all about?

 

Art, Music, & Junkanoo

Junkanoo is the purest form of Bahamian culture. Festivities allow locals to express themselves through loud music, high-energy dancing, joyful singing, and colorful art. It is one of the three original forms of Indigenous music and dance, which include Goombay and Rake ‘n’ Scrape as well. A Junkanoo celebration is synonymous with goatskin drums, cowbells, and whistles, and ‘rushin’ to the music, a reflection of the beating heart of the nation. Historical influences of African, Arawakan, and Christianity can be found in much of the art and music that exists in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas are one of the few Caribbean nations where Goombay music is mainstream, a testament to the pride that many citizens have in their culture. Straw making handicrafts are also quite popular amongst some islands. Common creations include hats and baskets that are made from palm fronds, heavily present throughout all the islands, and giving us the tropical vibe.

 

People

Bahamian locals are also known for their laid back and relaxed attitudes. Their easy-going and friendly nature often exaggerates the island time mood that many visitors love. While not always the case, life in The Bahamas is about taking things slow and enjoying time with friends and family. Hospitality also plays a big role in society and is one of the main reasons why tourism accounts for over half of the nation’s economy. Many Freeport Bahamas cruise excursions will take guests to see the city sites and packed beaches. But to get real value out of Grand Bahama tourism, we recommend getting out of the cities and seeing the lesser-known parts of the islands.

On our cooking tours, we welcome travelers into our home to prepare an authentic Bahamian meal and chat about life in The Bahamas. Touring shouldn’t be stressful, so we take all the rush out and take our time to explore parts of the island as well as its food, people, and history. A tour with the Taste of The Bahamas is the opportunity to spend the day like a real Bahamian local, seeing hidden gems of the island, enjoying the cuisine, and getting away from the tourist crowds.

 

The Bahamas has a rich history filled with diverse heritages that have made our culture unique, exciting, and welcoming. From our art, music, and dance, to our cuisine and the people who make it, there is a lot to love and discover about this island nation. If you’re looking to have a real taste of The Bahamas, then take a look at our tours or contact us to find out more!

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