National Heritage Day
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the second Monday in October is observed as National Heritage Day. This public holiday honors the heritage and culture of the islands and is a part of month-long activities that include a wide range of public events.
Not only is this a public holiday on the islands where the general population has a day off, but it’s also a day to enjoy one of the many festivals that are happening on or around this day. These festivals include the Salt Festival, Sponge Festival, Maritime Festival, and Seafood Festival. It’s also a day on which people can enjoy a carnival atmosphere.
The History Of National Heritage Day In Turks And Caicos Islands
Originally, Heritage Day in the islands was used to commemorate the date when Christopher Columbus first landed on the islands. On October 12th, 1492, Columbus landed in the Bahamas for the first time. This event was not only celebrated in Turks and Caicos but also in other Caribbean countries as well.
However, as people pondered the cruelty and brutality that resulted from Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos shifted the purpose of this holiday from Columbus and more towards the heritage of the islands.
In this context, if Columbus is even mentioned, it’s mentioned as an acknowledgment that his visit to the islands had a devastating impact on them. When Europeans arrived on the islands many Indians on the islands died.
This was either directly at the hands of the visiting Europeans or because they brought diseases for which the Indians didn’t have natural resistance. They also enslaved many of them and used them for forced labor. So, it’s not surprising that National Heritage Day was created to focus not on Columbus and the arrival of Europeans, but on the heritage and culture of the islands.
Observing National Heritage Day In Turks And Caicos Islands
Along with the many festivals celebrated on and around this holiday, there are also parades, carnivals, dances, sporting events, and other special celebratory events. It’s also a day that’s filled with some of the best cuisines that the islands can offer.