Video: Gombeys Make Their Boxing Day Rounds

December 26, 2013

As has been the tradition for many years, the Gombeys are out making their rounds on Boxing Day, helping the island celebrate the holiday season.

The island’s preeminent folk art, Gombeys traditionally span the island on Boxing Day and other holidays with the groups growing larger through the day as Bermudians start following along and dancing to the rhythmic beat of the drums.

bermuda gombeys boxing day

The Gombeys are thought to have been principally derived from an African custom, with aspects such as their hatchets and bows and arrows owing their influence to Native American slaves sold in Bermuda centuries ago.

Written records of their appearances in Bermuda dating back to the early 1800s show they were once referred to as ”the Gumba”.

A brochure from the ADHT describe the Gombeys by saying, “These masked dancers [the masks may well have been used to conceal the identities of the dancers from slave owners] zestfully portray biblical and other stories as they make their way through the streets.

Video showing the Gombeys in the Border Lane/Glebe Road area late this morning:

“The dancers are followed by a band of drummers. Deep-throated kettledrums set the time, while snare drummers weave a complicated rhythm for the dancers to follow.

“Bringing up the rear of the Gombey crowd are men, women and children captivated by the distinctive rhythms as they dance to the language of the drum.

“The Gombeys are a vivid cultural symbol, the artistry of their dance brought on slave ships from native soil, kept alive during slavery and now blossoming in freedom.”

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  1. terry says:

    Thanks for the video’s Bernews.
    I remember back in the early 50′s when they had a few troupes and would go island wide making a great noise.

  2. Doc says:

    This was a very well written article.

  3. Common Sense says:

    One of Bermuda’s most invaluable traditions and one we should all cherish. Thanks to the Gombeys for making Boxing Day so special. Long may you continue.

  4. Ebenezer says:

    It would be nice if when the Gombays are in the middle of the road around a blind corner, they actually have someone who has a flashlight and isnt wearing dark clothing while standing 2 feet in front of them warning traffic to slow down.

  5. YSK says:

    Oh Gawd!

    No civility on those things’ part.

    Oh Gawd!

  6. X man says:

    I had my Friends from New England here for Christmas – and they loved them.- and want to see them again.