Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day: October 8
Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship is a public holiday in US Virgin Islands.
“Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day” is observed in the Caribbean nation of U.S. Virgin Islands each year on Columbus Day. This holiday has been celebrated since the 1960s, in celebration of the unique relationship between Virgin Islanders and Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day is celebrated in place of Columbus Day, due to the controversy surrounding the atrocities committed against the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean during Spanish colonization of the region.
History of Country Holiday
The U.S. Virgin Islands consists of four main islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix, and Water Island, as well as several dozen smaller islands, and are located in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, about 90 miles east of Puerto Rico and west of the British Virgin Islands. In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean while searching for a route to India, and named the native islanders “Indians”. He named the islands “The Virgins”, referencing the legend of the beautiful St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. In the years following Columbus’s discovery of the islands, the Indian population suffered the effects of European colonization. The native Indians were devastated by disease, battle, and slavery, and by 1625, the Indian population had virtually disappeared.
Between 1493 and 1917, the US Virgin Islands changed hands many times, being owned at different times Spain, England, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark-Norway. The Danish West India Company settled on Saint Thomas in 1672, and in 1754, the territory was named the Danish-Westindian Islands. In 1917, the United States purchased the islands from Denmark and renamed the territory the Virgin Islands of the United States. Citizenship was granted to residents in 1927.
Throughout its history, the U.S. Virgin Islanders have maintained a unique cultural link with Puerto Ricans. Currently, Puerto Ricans make up the largest number of migrants to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The primarily African culture of the U.S. Virgin Islands has benefited from many Hispanic Puerto Rican cultural influences, causing the nations to form many shared tradition. Since the 1960s, U.S. Virgin Islands have chosen to celebrate their friendship in place of Columbus Day.
Puerto Rico-U.S. Virgin Islands Friendship Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Though Puerto Rico-U.S. Virgin Islands Friendship Day is officially October 12, the celebration actually lasts several days. The festivities include dance and music performance by Virgin Islanders and Puerto Ricans, art displays, and historical exhibits.