Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day in the US Virgin Islands Date in the current year: October 14, 2024

Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day in the US Virgin Islands Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day is celebrated in the United States Virgin Islands on the second Monday of October, coinciding with Columbus Day. This public holiday honors Puerto Ricans residing in the U.S. Virgin Islands and their contributions.

During the period when Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony, many Puerto Ricans migrated to neighboring colonies such as Cuba, Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic), the Virgin Islands, and Venezuela. Migration between neighboring Spanish colonies was common because it was essentially like moving from one part of the country to another.

Another wave of Puerto Rican migration to the Virgin Islands occurred during the early days of the United States rule in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (the first half of the 20th century). The economy of Puerto Rico was undeveloped at the time, and many Puerto Ricans migrated to the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, and major United States cities in search of a better life.

As a result of these waves of migration, the territory of U.S. Virgin Islands has the second largest Puerto Rican community outside of Puerto Rico after the United States. There are nearly 11,000 Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, most of them on the island of Saint Croix. They make up about 10% of the territory’s population.

Several notable U.S. Virgin Islanders were of Puerto Rican origin. For example, the first elected governor of the territory (and its 23rd governor overall), Juan Francisco Luis, was born in Puerto Rico, but his family moved to St. Croix when he was just two months old. Luis went to university in Puerto Rico, but returned to the U.S. Virgin Islands after graduating from college. He began his political career in 1972 and became governor in 1978, at the age of 37.

Notable historian, author and activist Arturo Alfonso Schomburg had ties both to the U.S. Virgin Islands and to Puerto Rico. Schomburg’s mother was a black woman from St. Croix and his father was the son of a German immigrant to Puerto Rico. Schomburg himself was born in Puerto Rico but attended high school on St. Thomas. Schomburg is best known as a notable member of the Harlem Renaissance.

Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day, often shortened to VI–PR Friendship Day, was established in 1964 by Governor Ralph Paiewonsky. He inaugurated the holiday to honor the contributions of Puerto Ricans who reside or have resided in the Virgin Islands. The holiday coincides with Columbus Day for a reason; this coincidence is meant to highlight the solidarity of Americans in the Caribbean.

VI–PR Friendship Day events are meant to recognize and strengthen the close and friendly relationship between the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, highlight the contribution of Puerto Rican natives to the development of the United States Virgin Islands, and celebrate the territory’s Puerto Rican community. These events include, but are not limited to, concerts, family-friendly activities, workshops, cultural events, sports tournaments, parades, festivals, and more.

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Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day, VI–PR Friendship Day, holidays in the US Virgin Islands, public holidays