Commonwealth Day: May 24 (old tradition)
Ask many Belizeans, what is ‘Commonwealth Day’ in observance of ?, and ‘you may hear many incorrect answers.
The holiday started out as an observance of a British queen’s birthday (Queen Victoria), and was originally called ‘Empire Day’.
Sometime in the 1990s ‘Commonwealth Day’ was renamed ‘Commonwealth & Sovereign’s Day’, by the government and those who were the organizers of events for the holiday, and to celebrate local cultures and the importance of being a part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Every year on May 24, the people of Belize observe Commonwealth Day. The routine events are horse races in Boom, youth events, and various gatherings in recognition of the Belizean culture. But since the COVID-19 crisis, none of the usual events will be held.
History of Commonwealth Day in Belize
The origin of Commonwealth Day goes back to the end of the 1800s, a time when Queen Victoria was perceived as a motherly figure that strongly represented the expansive British Empire. There were suggestions by many for a day that would honour her 67 year reign as queen of the British Empire.
After Queen Elizabeth died in 1901, the efforts of the ‘Earl of Meath’ to create a holiday to honour the creation of the Commonwealth of Nations was achieved, and an unofficial holiday was set-aside which was called ‘Empire Day’ and was set to be May 24th., the birthdate of Queen Victoria. It wasn’t until 1916 that Empire Day became an annual event.
For several decades Belize (British Honduras) participated in the Empire Day ceremonies. But as Britain’s global power waned and political views towards British imperialism grew strong, Empire Day converted to a more mundane British Commonwealth Day in 1958 and then again to Commonwealth Day in 1966.
The An·tith·e·sis Of The Name ‘Common-Wealth‘
In many of the countries that are part of the Commonwealth, the standard of living is very far from the wealth of others and definitely far lower thaN the standard of living in Britain. Why such a word was chosen to describe a day to observe the membership in the group of nations is rather facetious or even cunning.
In Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations on earth, and a member of the Commonwealth of nations, the average monthly income of its 165 million citizens is (one hundred seventy) $170.00 US Dollars / month.
We added up the population of all the Commonwealth countries, and it seems that 2.4 Billion people will be on holiday tomorrow, May 25th. 2020.
1. Antigua and Barbuda
12. The Gambia
28. New Zealand
31. Papua New Guinea
32. Republic of Cyprus*
36. Sierra Leone
38. Solomon Islands
39. South Africa
40. Sri Lanka
41. St Christopher and Nevis
42. St Lucia
43. St Vincent and the Grenadines
45. The Bahamas
47. Trinidad and Tobago
50. United Kingdom*
51. United Republic of Tanzania
For more Information @ Research URL: Wikipedia
Some data and text collected from G.O.B webpages
Written & Compiled by digitalCaribbean.Live – digitalBelize.LIVE staff reporter: digitalCaribbean.LIVE@gmail.com