Essay on Native American Christmas Celebrations, Jamaica, And The Caribbean

Essay on Native American Christmas Celebrations, Jamaica, And The Caribbean

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North Carolinians often associate Christmas time with pine trees, presents, and Santa Claus, but never stop to think about how other Christian cultures such as the African American ones in New Bern,Jamaica, and the Caribbean celebrate this time of year.The contrast between the African-American celebrations called Jonkonnu, and American Christmas celebrations is profound. The Jonkonnu celebrations occurs in tightly knitted communities that use music,dance, and songs to express their appreciation of one another instead of the tradition of gift-giving. Jonkonnu is an African-American Christmas celebration, which takes place in New Bern, but originated in Jamaica, and the Caribbean.


Jonkonnu can be traced back to West African slave ships which carried slaves to Jamaica,the Caribbean, and to the colonies of America(Lasseter).In the beginning of the 19th century, various cultural practices began to develop among the slaves in all three regions(Lasseter).”Jonkonnu obviously represented a time of release and enjoyment for slaves from the drudgery of their day–to–day work”(Mckown).Contrary to the belief that the owners’ motives were benevolent, the celebration was probably meant to let the slaves “blow off steam” in order to prevent rebellions, and maintain efficiency(Mims). According to Lasseter,slaves from different areas eventually met, and spread their culture among themselves and the whites. This caused a large pool of cultural practices to weave together and create what is now known as Jonkonnu(Mims).
“There is a bit of controversy as to the source of the name of the festival” (History). “While some believe that the origin of the name is unknown, others contend that the name and principal character are honourable memorials to John...


... middle of paper ...


...much larger scale since it is essentially a national holiday(Mims).
Jonkonnu is a staple of African-American culture and has also become important to the culture of New Bern. The deep cultural, and historical significance gives Jonkonnu its vigor and unique style which is matched by very few cultures in the world. Using costumes and masks to represent animals or people is a very common practice among most cultures.However, few cultures are able to match the amount of energy and power which is released every year during Jonkonnu. The difference between traditional western celebrations and Jonkonnu is immense. Instead of focusing on money or gifts, people focus on music,dancing and other people, which is what makes Jonkonnu so incredible. Jonkonnu is an African-American Christmas celebration which takes place in New Bern, but originated in Jamaica, and the Caribbean.


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