Wednesday, December 26, 2007
As regular visitors to Science Musings will know, we spend the winters in the Bahamas and summers in Ireland. In both places, it is the day after Christmas, Saint Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day in countries formerly under British influence, that see the most distinctive celebrations of the season. In the Bahamas, Junkanoo -- a name of uncertain origin -- begins in the dark wee hours of the morning with elaborate costumes, floats and parades, and a distinctive music employing goatskin drums, cow bells, and whistles. One delightful side-effect of the recent prosperity of our little island is a ramping up of its Junkanoo celebrations. This year, three groups competed for best presentation -- a riot a earsplitting noise and gaudy papier mache that began at 3 AM and continued until dawn. For my money, the winner was The Musical Youths, with their African themed parade.
The national beer of the Bahamas is named for the sound of those cow bells: Kalik.
In Ireland, and especially in our local town of Dingle, it is the ancient Wren Boys, of presumably druidic origin, who dress themselves in weird straw suits and masks and parade through town making a joyous noise with any musical instrument at hand. Ending up, of course, in one of Dingle's innumerable pubs.
Not much in this post to warrant notice in a site called Science Musings. These wonderful festivities are the very antithesis of reasoned order. But perhaps that is reason enough to give one day each year to sheer physical exuberance.