Separation Day: December 19
Separation Day is a public holiday in Anguilla.
December 19, 1980 was the day that Anguilla separated itself politically from the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. The association with Saint Kitts was never favorably seen in Anguilla. Even though today Anguilla still remains under Britain’s influence, it is with joy that they celebrate Separation Day. This day may sometimes be referred to as Anguilla’s Heroes and Heroines Day, but this is not correct.
History of Separation Day in Anguilla
Anguilla was first colonized by the English coming from the island of Saint Kitts in 1650, growing tobacco and corn. In the meantime the Carib Indians invaded Anguilla in 1656 and burned down the settlements. Ten years later, the French invaded the island. The British regained possession of Anguilla in 1667 and stoically remained through years of drought and famine that followed.
By 1824, Anguilla was placed by the British under the administration of Saint Kitts, later to be the colony of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. Anguillans never liked this idea since they faced discrimination by the Saint Kitts administration. It was in the 1960s that the protests of Anguillans found some attentive British ears. In 1967 the territory of Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla was granted some self-governance powers, so Anguillans took the opportunity to distance themselves from Saint Kitts. In the same year, the Saint Kitts police were evicted from the island, and Anguillans asked to be placed under the administration of the United States. However, the request was denied.
A referendum was held, and the people of Anguilla almost unanimously wanted to secede from Saint Kitts. After some political back and forth, a second referendum was held, and Anguilla declared itself as an independent republic. The British countered the declaration with paratroopers and police from London. Finally, on December 19, 1980, Anguilla seceded from Saint Kitts to become a separate British dependency. Saint Kitts and Nevis later became fully independent from Britain, yet Anguilla still remains a British overseas territory.
Separation Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Separation Day is celebrated on this island with dancing, arts and crafts fairs, street parades, and sports competitions like boat racing and cricket. Anguillans will flock to the beautiful beaches for family picnics and watch people engage in Anguilla’s national sport, boat racing. Although not one of the biggest holidays on the island, it is a day off that gives the population an opportunity to enjoy the sunny weather in December and welcome the many tourists that choose this Caribbean island as their holiday destination.