Bill to move Bermuda Day passes in House
Legislation to move Bermuda Day to the last Friday of May has been approved by the House of Assembly.
Zane DeSilva, Minister of Social Development and Sport, said the move was intended to reduce the disruption the holiday — traditionally celebrated on May 24 — causes when the date lands midweek.
However, several opposition MPs said that public polling suggested that most Bermudians were against moving the holiday.
Mr DeSilva told the House May 24 was first celebrated as a holiday in 1902 to mark the birthday of Queen Victoria.
The holiday became Bermuda Day in 1979 following recommendations from the Pitt Report to create a day to celebrate Bermudian heritage and build national pride.
Mr DeSilva said legislation to move the holiday was tabled by Michael Weeks three years ago, but failed due to resistance from the then OBA government.
At that time, Mr Weeks said that 700 students were absent from school the day after the holiday while another 200 arrived late.
Mr DeSilva said: “We must recognise and celebrate our heritage on a day that best suits the community.”
He added that the PLP had consulted with numerous agencies about the change, including several unions and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
While Mr DeSilva said most expressed support for the move, the Bermuda Employers Council voiced concerns about the change coming into effect in 2018.
He also said the retail sector of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce had some issues with the move.
The Minister added: “We had that debate, and the decision was for us to move forward.”