Observed on the Friday before the first Monday in August, Somers Day is a public holiday in Bermuda. This holiday commemorates the founder of the British colony of Bermuda, Admiral George Somers. As of 2020, however, this holiday is no longer named after Admiral Somers.
It was renamed Mary Prince Day and is now a holiday that honors a Bermudian who was once enslaved and who would go on to become a hero of the abolitionist movement in Great Britain. During the course of some years, this holiday falls on August 1st, which is also Emancipation Day. When that happens, this holiday is instead observed on the Thursday before this day and this creates a 4-day weekend for the general public.
The History Of Somers Day In Bermuda
In 1554, George Somers was born in Dorset. Even as a child he had an aptitude for sailing, so it’s not surprising that he would grow up to be the captain of a few ships and then eventually knighted in the 17th century.
In 1609, he was made Admiral of the Virginia Company’s Third Supply relief fleet to provide supplies to the British colony of Jamestown. Unfortunately, a bad store would change those plans and he was blown off course, he had to run the ship aground on some reefs and then head to land that was nearby.
He and every member of his crew reached the shore. This area would later be known as Discovery Bay, Bermuda. He and his crew had to live on the island for two months before they were able to build two ships that they used to finally sail to Jamestown.
Although he returned to Bermuda to collect food for Jamestown, he fell ill during his journey. He would die at the age of 56-years old on November 9th, 1610. For a while, Bermuda was known as the Somers Isles.
Skip ahead a few hundred years, and Somers Day was proclaimed a holiday on July 28th, 1931. Although it was supposed to be a one-and-done celebration, it was one that was celebrated every year. In 2020, the holiday was renamed Mary Prince Day.
Observing Somers Day In Bermuda
This holiday is observed as a public holiday in Bermuda, so it’s a day off for the general population. It’s also a day when most non-essential government offices and businesses are closed.