Phasing Out the Queen’s Birthday

The RG is reporting that the Government has decided to ‘phase out’ the Queen’s Birthday as a public holiday. Along with Rowland and some other bloggers, I too am very happy with this move. I had earlier suggested that the furore over changing Bermuda Day to National Heroes Day could be solved by changing the Queen’s Birthday holiday to the National Heroes Day one. As is, i think this move is a better one than the one I had initially proposed.

There are some who are upset with this move, and honestly its not possible to please everyone all the time. The best argument I have heard in opposition to this change is that it gets rid of some of our ‘traditions’ and that it would effect tourism. As for ‘traditions’ I have always been of the mentality that all such traditions need to be critically evaluated and some deserve to be confined to the dustbin of history. As far as I’m concerned the very concept of a Monarchy, be it constitutional or absolute, is one of these ‘traditions’ along with celebrating an obsolete Monarch’s ‘official’ birthday.

I do recognise however that the event is useful from a tourism perspective. It should be noted that the parade and its pomp is not being discarded, it will continue, much as the Peppercorn Ceremony up at St. Georges. This will continue to serve the interests of tourism, and in fact having the pomp as a draw while not having a holiday actually makes some rather good commercial sense; I can imagine the tacky souvenirs and what nots that can be profited by this change.

Having a phased period also allows for adjustments that private businesses can make, and so in the long run will allow for a smooth transition.

I would also like to echo Rowland’s call for Labour Day to be moved from September to May 1st, International Labour Day, and declaring March 8th, International Women’s Day a public holiday.

Shortly I will post the entire text of the original declaration, but on the first celebration of Labour Day in Bermuda in 1982 – essentially as a result of the 1981 General Strike, the Progressive Labour Party, in the person of the late Freddie Wade, issued a statement that when the PLP forms the Government one of their first acts would be to change Labour Day to May 1st.

Ten years late is still better then never…

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3 thoughts on “Phasing Out the Queen’s Birthday

  1. I think that this move works, to have the Queens’ Birthday be a non-bank-holiday (or whatever the correct term should be), it kind of satisfies both sides of the monarchy divide. People will still get to watch the parades and ceremonial stuff.

    National Heroes Day, I’ve always been in support of, although the method of ‘choosing heroes’ is probably something I’d like to have seen more open deliberation/suggestion gathering taking place beforehand. The business community naturally has their objections, but I think the interest of Bermudians should take precedence over businesses.

    Regarding Labour Day, it’s interesting. I didn’t even know that Labour Day as we know it (in September) was an American construct until I was 15 and in Barbados where it’s celebrated on May 1st. Could a change be in the cards? I think this is going to be lower on the Government’s radar for the time being, but I think discussion on the merits/pitfalls of such a transition could be useful.

  2. Jonathon,

    Forgive my ingorance, but what is the difference in when Labor Day is recognized? I understand that one is in line with the American holiday and the other is an international day, but can you explain the importance of one over the other? Just curious really – as far as I’m concerned the long weekend in September just seems to make more sense rather than another holiday in May (perhaps that’s part of my problem – to be honest I’m more interested in the day off rather than what the day means)

  3. The D, the main issue people like Jonny and I have with ‘American’ Labor Day is that it was ment to intentionally break solidarity between American workers and workers elsewhere in the world. ‘May Day’ as it is often termed is a day in honour of the Haymarket Riots and more specifically the Haymarket Matyrs, which was the primary event in precipitating the eight-hour work day most of us now enjoy. Because the riots were in Chicago, and because they didn’t want their workers linking up with workers in other countries the Americans endorsed another day off for the working man, which I believe was organized by the Knights of Labor which as a group was hardly representative of American labour because they had lost most of their membership to groups like the Socialist Labour Party and Industrial Workers of the World. The Americans went on to declar May 1st in the U.S. as ‘loyalty day’ to further drive a wedge between their workers and other ones.

    So to make it short, May Day is ment to celebrate the common worker across the world, American Labor Day is reactionary and ment to drive wedges.

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