There are many influences of the British colonial heritage still visible in Bermuda and cricket is certainly one of them.
It is one of the most popular sports on the island and even have its own two-day holiday! When it is Bermuda Cup Match time, the whole of the island turn its attention to the game that opposes teams of each side of the island, the Somerset Cricket Club in the west and the St. George’s Cricket Club in the east.
The Bermuda Cup Match is played in the summer, on the Thursday and the Friday closest to August 1st and hosted in turn by each team. This year it was on July 28 and 29 and the trophy was retained by St. Georges on Somerset’s land. The first day is called Emancipation Day and the second is Somers Day.
The Cup Match finds its origins in a game of cricket first played from the 1880’s during the annual celebrations of the abolition of slavery in Bermuda. Teams from lodges in the west and the east played each other in what was the highlight of the picnics organised to mark the emancipation. It was after the game of 1901 between the Somerset Cricket Club and the St. George’s Cricket Club that it was decided to play the following year for the gain of an annual trophy. Funds were raised to buy a silver cup that officially became the trophy in 1902.
It is said that because of the fervour the Cup Match was met with, there was more and more people missing work for these two days. That would have been why the Bermuda Government decided to introduce two official national public holidays in 1947. It was in 1999 that the two days were named, the first Emancipation Day to keep alive the tradition of remembering the end of slavery, and the second Somers Day to commemorate the Admiral Sir George Somers whose arrival led to the colonisation of Bermuda.
Because it is always played on a Thursday and a Friday, the Bermuda Cup Match is also the start to a 4 days week-end and therefore several celebrations. It is in fact one of the biggest holidays of the island and although it is named after the cricket game, it is much more than that.
The main event still celebrated is the emancipation of slavery. It symbolises one of the most crucial time in the history of Bermuda, one that still influences the island. Bermudians see it as a time for reconciliation, reflection and rejoicing.
The Cup is considered like a symbol of this celebration and treated as sacred. It is even locked in the vault of a local bank and not given out anymore. Instead, the winners now have to settle with a replica.
Even if you are not a fan of cricket, the Bermuda Cup Match worth to be attended. You’ll find the best of the island such as calypso singers, vendors of amazing traditional food like conch stew, fish chowder, codfish cakes… It is also a unique opportunity to play or watch a game of Crown and Anchor, the gambling local game.
The preparation start a few days before the Cup Match and it is a great moment to see armies of fans in their team colours – pale blue and dark blue for the St. George’s Cricket Club, red and navy for the Somerset Cricket Club – settling down in town.
Bermuda Cup Match – Last Thursday and Friday of July; http://www.bermudacupmatch.com
Bermuda Cup Match – Part of Elbow Beach Cycles – ‘Things to do in Bermuda’ series!
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