December 19 – National Heroes and Heroines Day in Anguilla

Posted on December 19, 2016

When I read that today is one of the most important holidays in Anguilla, I confidently turned to access the post I wrote about Anguilla in the recent past...and then I realized that I never, ever wrote about Anguilla here on Every Day Is Special.

Indeed, I realized that I had mixed up Anguilla with Antigua, of Antigua and Barbuda

Anguilla is circled on this globe.
It's pretty small.
Anguilla is a Caribbean island that, along with a bunch of smaller, uninhabited islands and cays, is a British overseas territory rather than an independent nation. It's part of the island group called the Lesser Antilles

(Antigua is ALSO a Caribbean island, one of the Lesser Antilles, and it was ALSO colonized by the British; however, since 1981 Antigua and Barbuda have been an independent nation.)

So...getting back to Anguilla...

This holiday used to be called Separation Day, and it celebrated the separation of this island from a few other Caribbean islands. Anguilla was bundled together with three other islands, over time, but became a separate British dependency on this date in 1980.

When the holiday changed to be dedicated to Anguilla's heroes, people began to hold memorial services for those heroes as well as organizing festivities to celebrate the day.

Most Anguillians are black descendants of enslaved people. The most common language is a creole of West African languages and English, and the cuisine and culture have West African and British influences (along with French and others).

Here are some especially Anguillian things about Anguilla:

Boat racing is the national sport! There are several large boat races, one of which has racers circling the entire island. The sailboats are unusual in that they don’t have decks — the sailors stand on the curved bottoms of the boat! I read that, when getting close to the finish line, the racers throw out sandbags that had acted as ballast — and sometimes even ditch some of the crew to make the boats race just a little faster!

(I’m not sure if the crew members who go overboard swim to shore or get picked up by motorboats — but I did read that fans often follow the race in motorboats or even by keeping up with their cars on the island roads!)

Beach barbecues are popular, either for-profit pop-ups or families picnicking. Ribs and fries are popular fare.

Many houses in Anguilla are unfinished — even the ones that look finished are often unfinished. This is because, by and large, Anguillians do not borrow money to build or add on to their houses, but rather save up money and then build / add on. That way of life is considered a happy way of living within your means, and living less stressfully, but still looking forward to a better future.

In this photo, the finished-looking house has pieces of metal sticking out of the roof. This rebar is there to anchor a planned second story, when the family can afford it.

 And, of course, the beaches are lovely!

Also on this date:

It's still time for Las Posadas!

Anniversary of Samuel Clemens's first patent

Plan ahead:

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