Virgin Islands Day in the British Virgin Islands Date in the current year: July 1, 2024

Virgin Islands Day in the British Virgin Islands Virgin Islands Day, formerly known as Colony Day and then Territory Day, is a public holiday in the British Virgin Islands. Celebrated on the first Monday of July, it commemorates the day when the Virgin Islands became a standalone self-governing colony of the United Kingdom.

The Virgin Islands archipelago is a part of the Greater Antilles, an island group in the Caribbean Sea. It is divided between the British overseas territory of the British Virgin Islands, abbreviated as BVI, the US unincorporated territory of the American Virgin Islands, and the Spanish Virgin Islands that are a part of Puerto Rico.

The Virgin Islands were first sighted by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the New World. He named the archipelago after the legend Saint Ursula and 11,000 virgins, but the excessively long name Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes was quickly shortened to simply Las Vírgenes (The Virgins).

The Virgin Islands were originally claimed by the Spanish and English, but they didn’t properly settle the archipelago. The first permanent settlements on the northern half of the archipelago were established by the Dutch. However, a lack of profit, hostilities with the Spanish who claimed the southern part of the archipelago, and the Third Anglo-Dutch War led to the islands falling to British control.

England took control of what is now the British Virgin Islands in 1672. They were administered as part of the British Leeward Islands until 1958 (except for a relatively brief period between 1816 and 1833 when the colony was split into two separately administered parts).

The British Virgin Islands were granted self-government in 1950. In January 1958, all islands comprising the British Leeward Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, Saint Christopher) except the British Virgin Islands were absorbed into the newly established West Indies Federation. The British Virgin Islands were formally recognized as a separate colony in 1960 and gained autonomy in 1967.

The anniversary of the day when the British Virgin Islands became a standalone colony was originally celebrated on July 1 as Colony Day. However, following the amendment of the constitution of the islands in 1977, the holiday was renamed Territory Day, which was deemed a more appropriate name in the light of the islands’ growing autonomy.

In 2020, the BVI government revised the territory’s public holidays so that they would better reflect the distinct history and culture of the British Virgin Islanders, assert the Virgin Islanders’ unique identity, and highlight their renewed sense of national consciousness. A number of holidays were added to the list, and some of the existing ones were given new names and meanings.

This is how Territory Day became Virgin Islands Day. In addition to renaming, it was moved from July 1 to the first Monday of July in order to create a long holiday weekend. Virgin Islands Day events include patriotic speeches, cultural festivals, musical concerts, and other festivities held across the archipelago.

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Virgin Islands Day in the British Virgin Islands, holidays in the British Virgin Islands, public holidays, Territory Day, Colony Day