April 25, 2012 - Peppercorn Day in Bermuda

This is one of the odder of the Caribbean holidays: Every year in Bermuda's largest city (St. George) pomp and circumstance surrounds an event that would seem to be very ordinary, even boring: collecting rent.

A horse-drawn carriage brings the governor to the Old State House to collect this “rent,” which is not a sum of money, but is instead a single peppercorn!

This goes back to the old days of 1797, when a group of Freemasons began renting the Old State House for the sum of a peppercorn. St. George used to be the capital city of Bermuda, but in the late 1700s the parliament decided to build a new capital city.

Do you know where Bermuda is?

Earlier I referred to Bermuda as being a Caribbean island—but really it's pretty far north of the Caribbean Sea. It's about 600 miles due east from North Carolina, well into the Atlantic Ocean. (Check out the map below.)

So why is it often referred to as a Caribbean island?

Historically and culturally Bermuda, along with other not-actually-in-the-Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, is linked with islands that ARE in the Caribbean Sea. One example is that many black people from the Eastern Caribbean islands migrated to Bermuda in the early 1900s, bringing their culture and foods.

By the way, Bermuda isn't a fully independent nation; instead, it is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. But that didn't stop it being included in the Animaniac's "Nations of the World" Song

(A less fuzzy version of the song can be found here—but the country names are missing from this version, which is too bad. Lyrics can be found here.)

What's the Bermuda Triangle?

Basically, the Bermuda Triangle is pseudoscience. What I mean by that is that it is nonsense, hokum, baloney, hogwash, and poppycock!

The Bermuda Triangle is a geographical area of the Atlantic Ocean that is supposed to be the site where an unexplainable number of airplanes and boats have disappeared in such mysterious circumstances that people were sure that ghosts or aliens or magic had to be the cause. However, studies have shown that a lot of the reports given by Bermuda-Triangle promoters were incorrect or “fudged”—by which I mean lied about, to make a point. In actual fact, some planes have gone down in the area, sadly, and some ships have sunk. But the numbers of tragedies there are no more than any other area of the ocean.

Also on this date:

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