House Passes Bill To Move Bermuda Day Holiday

November 19, 2017 | 31 Comments

A Bill to change the date the Bermuda Day holiday is celebrated from May 24th to the last Friday in May, passed in the House of Assembly.

In delivering a brief on the Public Holidays Amendment Act 2017, Minister of Social Development and Sports Zane DeSilva said, “Currently, the Bermuda Day Public Holiday is recognized on the 24th of May and this Bill proposes that the day of observance should be changed to the last Friday in May of each year. It is anticipated that this change will have effect from May 2018 onwards.”

Slideshow of last year’s Bermuda Day parade and crowds:

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The Minister said, “Due to the inconsistency of the day in which Bermuda Day is observed, public and private schools; businesses; and other organizations have experienced disruptions mainly due to absenteeism and reduced productivity the day following Bermuda Day public holiday.

“For example, a few years ago, based on data from the Ministry of Education, it was estimated that over 700 children [some 15% of the public school student population at that time] were absent the day following the holiday [May 27th] and over 200 students showed up to school extremely late. This would not be a typical attendance rate.

“This proposed amendment is important to a mother whose child has rehearsed and practiced for many late nights on end and then marched in the parade on a week day, but then who has the task of preparing that same child for school the very next day.

“We must recognize and celebrate our heritage on a day that best suits the community, and yes, further, supports the spirit of the day.”

Minister DeSilva added that representatives from organizations were consulted in the proposed change, namely the Bermuda Industrial Union, Bermuda Public Services Union, Bermuda Union of Teachers, Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Hotel Association, Bermuda Business Development Agency, Association of Bermuda International Companies and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers.

The Minister’s full brief follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to lead the debate on the Bill entitled the Public Holidays Amendment Act 2017.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this Bill is to amend the Public Holidays Act 1947, to change when the Bermuda Day Public Holiday is observed. Currently, the Bermuda Day Public Holiday is recognized on the 24th of May and this Bill proposes that the day of observance should be changed to the last Friday in May of each year. It is anticipated that this change will have effect from May 2018 onwards.

Mr. Speaker, The importance of Bermuda Day hinges upon an understanding of its historical context. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to provide the Honourable Members of this Honourable House with a brief history of Bermuda Day, also known as 24th of May.

Mr. Speaker, from May 1902, Bermuda celebrated Empire Day, which was held on 24th May to observe Queen Victoria’s birthday and commemorating her death the year prior. In 1916, the 24th May became an annual public holiday throughout the British Empire.

Mr. Speaker, Following the riots in 1977, the then Governor formed a bipartisan Royal Commission chaired by Lord Pitt of Hampstead, the only black member of the British House of Lords at that time. The other appointed Commissioners were Walter N. H. Robinson, Reginald C.

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Commission was tasked to:-

  • [1] enquire into the civil disorders that occurred between the 1st and 3rd December 1977, which lead to a State of Emergency;
  • [2] enquire into the causes of the disorders; and
  • [3] produce a report on the finding of such enquires, and make recommendations that decisions be reached and action taken within a period of time deemed reasonable.

During the enquiry process Lord Pitt consulted with numerous of Bermudians to get their perspective on issues leading up to and during the riots. On the 14th July 1978, the Report of the Royal Commission into the 1977 Disturbances, also known as the Pitt Report was signed and presented to the Governor.

Mr. Speaker, the report points out that Bermudians were lacking a sense of national unity. The recommendations made by the Commissioners based on consultation with Bermudians strongly supported the organization of an event that would bring the people together regardless of race, economic status, religion but the main commonality would be that they are Bermudian. It was anticipated that the introduction of such an event would create harmony amongst Bermudians while instilling a sense of national pride.

Mr. Speaker, the overall consensus for such an event was reached and it was decided that a parade would provide Bermudians with the opportunity to celebrate with each other while strengthening the mutual respect and appreciation for one another. The concept of a parade stemmed from the annual Bermuda Floral Pageant also known as the Easter Parade, which was held annually in late April from 1930 to 1968. The Easter Parade was a fusion of a carnival-type celebration of spring and a showcase of Bermuda’s vibrant agricultural industry. The artistically created floats that transformed bicycles, horses, automobiles and trucks by simply using fresh flowers grown locally, especially Easter lilies provided something unique. The Easter Parade also incorporated marching bands, majorettes and equestrians. The uniqueness of the Easter Parade attracted locals and thousands of visitors alike to our shores.

Mr. Speaker, Eventually, Bermuda Day replaced Empire Day to foment greater harmony and respect for each other.

Mr. Speaker, one of the Pitt Report’s recommendations became a reality on May 24th 1979, when the first Bermuda Day heritage parade was held to unite our citizens and reinforce a sense of pride to be Bermudian.

Mr. Speaker, Currently, the Bermuda Day Public Holiday is observed on the 24th May, a date that can fall on any given day of a calendar week, which results in the holiday being observed on a different day annually; for example if the 24th May falls on a weekend the holiday is observed on the following Monday.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda Day is the most celebrated holiday other than Cup Match. It is the day that Bermudians find various ways to showcase their pride in the beauty of our island – whether they participate in the parade, the marathon, have picnics on the beach, go for their first swim, gather and participate in the first of the season’s dinghy boat races or simply just soak in the sun and beautiful waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, this holiday requires tremendous effort in planning and preparation for both the Marathon Derby and the Parade. The participants of both events are, more often than not, overcome by both the excitement and physical energy required to perform at the highest level. Additionally, the spectators [who are also an important part of the day] go over and beyond to make this day a fun-filled and joyful one.

Mr. Speaker, due to the inconsistency of the day in which Bermuda Day is observed, public and private schools; businesses; and other organizations have experienced disruptions mainly due to absenteeism and reduced productivity the day following Bermuda Day public holiday.

Mr. Speaker, for example, a few years ago, based on data from the Ministry of Education, it was estimated that over 700 children [some 15% of the public school student population at that time] were absent the day following the holiday [May 27th] and over 200 students showed up to school extremely late. This would not be a typical attendance rate.

Mr. Speaker, this proposed amendment is important to a mother whose child has rehearsed and practiced for many late nights on end and then marched in the parade on a week day, but then who has the task of preparing that same child for school the very next day.

Mr. Speaker, we must recognize and celebrate our heritage on a day that best suits the community, and yes, further, supports the spirit of the day.

Mr. Speaker, Representatives from the following organizations namely: – the Bermuda Industrial Union, Bermuda Public Services Union, Bermuda Union of Teachers, Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bermuda Hotel Association, Bermuda Business Development Agency, Association of Bermuda International Companies and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers were consulted on the proposed change and no objections were expressed.

Mr. Speaker, The proposed change in day of observance of the Bermuda Day holiday could also have an impact on Tourism, if marketed correctly. We see now, the number of tourists which enjoy this day and it could see an even larger increase in tourist arrivals, if taken on as a serious tourism product.

Mr. Speaker, the intent of this proposed amendment to the Public Holidays Act 1947, is to observe the Bermuda Day public holiday on the last Friday of May of each year, commencing from 2018 onwards. I wish to point out that, once the Bill is passed by the Legislature, it is the intent of Government to republish Government Notices setting out the dates of public holidays so that the corrected dates for the Bermuda Day public holiday for the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 are established.

Mr. Speaker, it is our hope that the amendments that are debated today will be approved in order to provide consistency in the observance of this important public holiday.

Thank you Mr. Speaker!

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Comments (31)

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  1. Your joking says:

    So you have just taken an extra busy day(when the 24th fell on Sunday to Thursday) away from those in the service industry. So in effect taking extra money out of out pocket. Thanks a bunch

    • Now they can change Somers Day to Sally Bassett Day.
      What de F!@# George Somers had to do with Emancipation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Vortex says:

        You have no respect for history sir. Do you ever leave race alone?

        When you wash your car, or make a cup of coffee, do you pervade it in everything you do?

        Your life must be very anxious.

        • Yes I have respect for History, but what type of respect are you showing by naming a day that celebrates Emancipation from Colonized oppression after the Colonizer.
          WTF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          Talk about Social Conditioning.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        It’s been explained to you a dozen times before but you continue to post this b******t !

  2. Your joking says:

    So you have just taken away an extra busy day (when the holiday fell on Sunday to Thursday) away from those in the service industry. So you just cost us $$$. Thanks a bunch

    • Good, now I can get a cheap ticket, fly out Thursday afternoon come back Sunday night.
      After 4 months after being sworn in, workers get a raise and we get an extended weekend Holiday the ancestors are smiling that their work was not in vain.

      • Anbu says:

        And your “raise” as u put it will mean nothing as next year they will tax u again u muppet. Ignorance truly is bliss for you and yours huh? These people taking u for a ride and u love it. Lmao.

      • wahoo says:

        You could save even more if it was a one-way ticket.

  3. Stewie griffin says:

    Yeah while yout at it,why don’t you change Easter and Christmas also ..

  4. Tired of it already says:

    I’d like to thank everyone for voting them in. Can’t wait for more holiday changes..
    Why not try to focus on important things, buses maybe that we hear NOTHING about.

  5. Hair says:

    Oh so you want the public to party more, this is a pathetic passing of a bill!! There are people that work on Saturdays duh!!!!

  6. New Day says:

    Lol.you lost Oba/ubp

    Good change PLP

  7. RIP oba says:

    I’d like to thank the 4 of you above that voted for the current UBP/OBA leader. LOLOL talk about scrapping from the barrel. Tired Leader choices with zero forward thinkers

  8. NO MORE WAR says:

    This is a great idea. At least now I don’t have to rush home and get my children ready for school the next damn day. Full speed ahead and to MP Brown keep up the good work. Bermudians first as it should have always been.

  9. S.S. says:

    Lazy people who want to drink and act a fool then can’t wake up for work and school. Why not tilt the earth’s axis while we’re at it? It’s been a bit chilly lately.

  10. Zevon says:

    So next year we get Friday off instead of Thursday.
    BFD.
    Will you lot do something useful? All I see is travelling, empty promises, and you can’t run a bus system.

  11. Imjustsaying says:

    I bet most of you who are complaining about the change don’t even go to the parade or even participate in it. Therefore you don’t have a clue.

    • wahoo says:

      yup! you win a free bus ride for being the most indoctrinated little plper to ever waste her vote

  12. SoFar Bie says:

    Now they need to pass a bill to increase the speed limite from 35k to 50k.

  13. Sai says:

    I am 100% PLP gowever i do bit avree with the bill. Bermuda Day shld ve kept the way it has been for the last how many years and we’ve managed to be okay. The parade shld flow more smootly or start it earlier so kids can get home on a timely manner and adults shld take vacation. Or maybe since we know the day after may be a little scarce we simply live with it as we have done. So what happens when all other holidays fall in weekdays? Come on guys there are more pressing issues that need addressing.

  14. DarkStar says:

    This is an expensive move for anybody that travels for the May Holiday-it now coincides with Memorial Day in the USA-an expensive weekend to travel. Also with BDA trying to revive tourism you will now have the new BDA holiday the same weekend as a major US holiday

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