The Origins of Heritage Month and Bermuda Day
Civil unrest in the 1960s and 1970s prompted the Bermuda Government to commission a report examining the social conditions in Bermuda and make recommendations to promote a more unified and peaceful social atmosphere. The Pitt Report of 1978 gave an accurate representation of the social and racially tense atmosphere at the time, and included feedback from many Bermudians that suggested an event should be organised to bring Bermudians together in harmony and to build a sense of civic pride.
It was decided that a parade would provide an opportunity for camaraderie and celebration, similar to the Easter Parade that ran from the 1930s through to the 1960s. During that time, many farmers grew flowers so that they could be in full bloom for the Easter period. It was also suggested in the Pitt Report that the proposed event capture the unifying spirit of the existing May 24 half-marathon. These events both served as inspiration for the Bermuda Day Heritage Parade which replaced Empire Day, the annual public holiday recognising Queen Victoria’s birthday. The first Bermuda Day Parade took place in 1979. It was historically celebrated on May 24th or the weekday nearest May 24th if that date fell on a weekend, but from 2018 onward will be celebrated on the last Friday in May, and in 2020 on Friday, May 29, 2020.
Bermuda quickly realised that one day of celebration was not enough time to recognise the broad spectrum of Bermudian heritage and traditions. Heritage Week was born, celebrated in the last week in May. By the mid-1980’s, this was expanded further into Heritage Month with a calendar full of events through May that celebrates Bermudian culture, heritage, and traditions. Bermuda Day has become the culminating point of Heritage Month and one of the most beloved cultural holidays alongside Cup Match (Emancipation Day & Somers Day). On Bermuda Day, Bermudians showcase their pride in the beauty and diverse culture of our island – whether they participate in the parade, the half-marathon, go for their first swim of the year, attend the season’s first fitted dinghy boat races, or follow the Gombeys through the streets crying, “Ay-oh!”.
Mini-Float Challenge 2021: Bermudian Resilience
The Department of Culture in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation invites individuals, students, families, charities and companies to participate in a “mini-float challenge”.
Using a pallet (or anything 4×4) as a base, create a mini-float that reflects our Heritage Month theme “Bermudian Resilience”. There are many ways to think about our resilience: our unique architecture; resilient Bermudians who overcame obstacles; flora and fauna like cedar trees and the cahow returning from the brink of extinction; how we endure in the face of hurricanes.
A limited number of pallets will be available for collection from Kaleidoscope; and Kaleidoscope will also offer online tutorials mid-May for inspiration. Thanks to Rowe-Spurling Paint Co., BGA and Butterfield & Vallis for providing pallets.
- Click here for Mini-Float Award Categories
- Click here for Mini-Float Entry Categories
- Click here for suggestions on materials that could be used for the Natural Heritage Mini-Float
- Click here for Mini-Float Entry Form. Deadline for submitting photographs of mini-floats is Monday 24 May.
Bermuda Day 2021:
Click here to visit the Bermuda Day Parade information page.