Junkanoo is an important element of Bahamian culture. An exact history is unclear but is thought to be named for a slave named John Canoe. It dates back several centuries when slaves on plantations in the Bahamas wore masks to avoid being identified when celebrating Christmas and New Years. After emancipation, the tradition continued but with more formal and elaborate community festivals held across the Bahamas on Dec 26 and Jan. 1. It usually includes food, local crafts, children performing skits, and street parades featuring indigenous music, dancing and colorful festival costumes and masks.