May 24 holiday will never be on May 24

  • Andrew Simons (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda’s traditional May 24 holiday will never fall on that date again.

The Progressive Labour Party ignored a last-ditch bid to change the wording of legislation, which was designed to allow the holiday to sometimes take place after May 24.

The Public Holidays Amendment Act, which was approved by the Senate yesterday, changes the Bermuda Day holiday from the fixed date of May 24 to the last Friday of the month.

One Bermuda Alliance senator Andrew Simons pointed out that when May 24 did land on a Friday, the final Friday of the month, and by extension the date of the holiday, would fall on May 31.

He added that meant the earliest date the holiday could fall was May 25.

Mr Simons said: “Whenever May 24 is actually on the Friday, the holiday moves to the following Friday, because that’s when there are five Fridays in the month.”

He suggested changing the wording from the final Friday to the fourth Friday.

The Bermuda Day holiday originated from a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday.

It was renamed Bermuda Day in 1979, based on recommendations by the Pitt Report into civil unrest in the 1970s, but the date of the holiday was unchanged.

PLP senator Jason Hayward, who tabled the legislation, explained that the change was intended to prevent the disruption caused when May 24 falls during the week.

He told the Upper House that thousands of pupils fail to attend school the day after the holiday.

Nandi Outerbridge, the Opposition Senate leader, said that similar changes had been proposed before, but the OBA did not adopt them because polls indicated that the public were against the move.

She said: “But this Bill is not one that I deem to be very contentious, and the OBA will support this.”

PLP senator Anthony Richardson argued that the holiday brings people together and a change of date would be better for the wider community.

He said: “Sometimes it may be at the end of the month, but overall if you go forward to the next ten years, there are not that many instances when it’s going to cause a challenge.”