Discovered in 1503, Bermuda is named after Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez, who came across the archipelago while sailing in the North Atlantic Ocean. Over a century passed before Bermuda was inhabited. In 1609, a British ship called the Sea Venture was caught in a hurricane. Rather than sink on the reefs off the coast of Bermuda, the crew decided to land their wrecked ship and officially settle the island. The crew of the Sea Venture was the first and only inhabitants of the island. In 1912, they established the island’s capital, St. Georges.
It wasn’t until the 1620’s that ancestors of Bermuda’s population today arrived on the island, as both slaves who were brought to Bermuda and also free Africans who chose to escape the expansion of British colonies.
When colonial powers officially took control of Bermuda, it marked a monumental change and growth in the island’s culture, fostering a unique brand of imperialism for the island dwellers, who were cut off from the rest of the world.
Bermuda Day was born in 1979. Previously known as Victoria Day and then Empire Day, Bermudians rebranded the holiday, preferring to lose the time-honored tradition of paying homage to the British Empire. They decided to honor their own independence and national pastimes instead.