What is Jonkonnu?

What is Jonkonnu

When we decided to homeschool we determined several goals that were important to us: 1. Reduce their anxiety 2. Hands on learning 3. Teaching to their culture and history.

US history is steeped in oppression and transgressions towards people of color. But, how do I teach this without taking the joy from their lives? I want to give them an honest view of US history.

The East Coast is rich with history, and historical sites to visit, and in many ways a homeschoolers dream. The reenactments include what ‘everyday’ life looked like during this time. There is a noticeable void. A white-washed sterilization that has taken place.  The African-Slave narrative is noticeably absent.   It’s dishonest, and I have a hard time exposing my kids to the dishonesty.

When an opportunity came up to participate in a unique summer program that taught African American Slave history. We jumped at it. For seven weeks we drove 4 hours round trip once a week to participate in Tryon Palaces’ Jonkonnu workshop.

Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC has a dedicated African-American history department that offers many programs on the life, history and contributions of African Americans.


What Is Jonkonnu? (pronounced John-Canoe)

Johnkonnu is a festive tradition! It  is a Christmastide tradition unique to North Carolina, specifically Wilmington and New Bern (which were both home to slave markets). It first appeared in Jamaica in colonial times, then spread to Caribbean Islands, Bermuda and eventually North Carolina. Jonkonnu mixes west African and English traditions like caroling, dancing, drumming and parades.


Once a year, the slaves were allowed a celebration, and they chose Jonkonnu. Many would dress in masks and multi-colored costumes.

Video Link

The Parade

They would travel from house to house clapping , singing and dancing. Sometimes this was the only time of year that they would see their family that had been sold to other plantations.

They would perform until the home/plantation owners would come out and greet them, and often pay them in coins.

The Ragman

The Ragman dresses in a suit of colorful rags. Each rag in his suit was donated from families and pieced together to create a beautiful suit of color.


The Fancy Man

Dressed in a top hat and his finest, the Fancy Man leads the parade.


The Songs

The songs were often coded to make fun of the Masters, or as messages for the Underground railroad.

Come along Moses, don’t get lost, don’t get lost,                                                             Come along Moses, don’t get lost, We are the children of God!


What Happened to Jonkonnu?

By the late 1800’s, Jonkonnu celebrations in the US became less frequent due to Jim Crow laws. By 1900 the celebration of Jonkonnu had disappeared due to increasing racial tensions.

Today Tryon Palace (the former capital of North Carolina) in New Bern, NC celebrates Jonkonnu during their Candlelight Festival in December. You can also see a Jonkonnu performance in January during the African American Cultural Festival, at the NC Museum of History. 







My Top 10 Disney World Tips



We received a nice surprise in the mail a few months back. it was a tax refund for the final adoption credit for Lola and Diego. We weren’t expecting it, which makes it all the sweeter.  I quickly began to make a list of the things that need to be fixed around the house, and Georges had other plans; “The kids don’t care about all these little things that need to be fixed, but a trip to Disney World, they will remember forever!” .  He was right, so we began planning our trip to Disney World.

As the days  went on, I felt like I was planning a month long back packing trip through the Amazon.  I was ferociously consuming Disney blogs and pinning like a crazy women. Most of the advice I got, was good.  But what I learned was that there really are not many short-cuts or money saving tips. I found our 3-star hotel on Groupon and got a great deal. It was not part of the ‘Disney Resort’, but we were ok with that. What did I learn?

  1. Water  Bottles: I actually got some cheap BPE-free water bottles and decorated them with kids names and Disney stickers, so that we didn’t have to search for water fountains.
  2. Disney Pins: This was fun for the kids. I went to ebay, and bought 50 Disney pins for $24. I split the pins between the 4 older kids, and this added a second level of excitement to the trip. The kids searched out Disney employees that had pins and traded with them.
  3. Snacks; I made a trip to Trader Joes and stocked up on snacks to bring into the park with us.
  4. Lunch: I packed our lunches everyday. It was easy to find a nice shaded table for us to sit and have our lunch, and the money we saved really added up.
  5. Reservations: If you do want to eat at one of the parks restaurants. Make a reservation TODAY! Many of the restaurants are booked months ahead of time
  6. Fast Pass: You can now book your fast pass before your trip.
  7. Glow in the dark/light up toys: We purchased glow in the dark items at the dollar store, and handed them out before the parade.
  8. If you need to skip a park, and the city you live in has a zoo, then skip the Animal Park. It wasn’t much of a zoo, or an amusement park.
  9. Epcot: This is not the most exciting park for the little ones, so we turned into an educational experience. Make passports ahead of time to get ‘stamped’ in each country, have a map to show where each country is, talk about and point out architecture, and  traditions from each country. We bought food in each country and tasted the local fare. The kids enjoyed this most..
  10. If you are at all tech-savvy, then take advantage of the Disney site. You can research and organize your itineraries here, as well as being able to store your restaurant reservations and fast pass times. You can link your Disney passes to the site, and in case you lose your passes, the numbers are recorded on line and you can have new passes issued quickly.