Easter in Bermuda

 

Easter is a very special time of year in Bermuda. Of course, the holiday centers around the religious festival, but many local traditions and activities colour the Good Friday weekend, which is also a public holiday.

 

The article below details some of the main customs, including flying Bermuda kites, making hot-cross buns and codfish cakes (check out recipes for these in our Blog), the story behind Bermuda Easter lilies and passion flowers, and assorted other Bermuda Easter traditions. The following video also provides an overview of Easter in Bermuda:


 

Navigate this page:

Bermuda Kites

Video: How to make a Bermuda Kite

Hot Cross Buns

Codfish Cakes

Bermuda Easter Lilies and Passion Flowers

Other Bermuda Easter Traditions


     

   
Good Friday & Easter Weekend

 

00:05:17 • Events, good, alleys, alley, hotcross, codfish, kite, marbles, cross, buns, friday, easter, holidays, hot, cakes, kites, fish

 

See all the fun, excitement and traditions of the Good Friday and Easter Weekend Holiday in Bermuda.

 

More videos at bermudayp.tv

       

Bermuda Kites

The Bermuda kite is an important part of Bermudian cultural heritage. Not only is the structure and graphic design of a Bermuda kite completely unique, kite flying is central to the Good Friday holiday celebrations on the island. In fact, Good Friday is sometimes referred to as ‘Kite Day’ by locals! The place to be is Horseshoe Bay beach, where kites fill the sky for most of the day. Kite competitions are held with prizes being awarded in a range of categories: ‘smallest kite’, ‘largest kite’, ‘best kite by a visitor’ amongst others. Kite parties are common, with groups of families and friends pausing their kite flying just long enough to eat a fishcake sandwiched in a hot cross bun – an Easter institution in Bermuda of equal if not greater importance to kite-flying! See our Blog for recipes for both codfish cakes and hot cross buns. The following video is a how-to of how to make a Bermuda Kite with Kite Master Eugene O'Connor.

 
 
   
Bermuda Kite Making

 

00:14:00 • Activities & Attractions, kite, kite making, tradition, bermudian, easter, good friday, crafts

 

Join Eugene O'Connor as he builds a traditional Bermudian Kite from scratch.

 

More videos at bermudayp.tv

       

There are many stories attached to the flying of kites in Bermuda and how it became associated with the Good Friday Holiday, but two stand out in particular.


The first relates to a  Sunday school teacher who, goes the Bermudian legend, used a kite to explain the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven to his students. The kite/Christ analogy has been extended by generations of Bermudians to create a rich allegory. For instance, the hummers attached to the kite which make a distinctive buzzing sound have come to represent the moaning of Mary, grief-stricken by Jesus’ crucifixion, or the crowd crying ‘Crucify Him, Crucify Him’. Furthermore, the sticks in the kite frame are often in the shape of a cross.


The second story which is often used to explain the Bermudian tradition of kite-flying at Easter is that a minister noticed that there was a large amount of absenteeism amongst his usually conscientious congregation on Good Friday. When asked why they were missing church on this important holy day, the parishioners gave a variety of reasons. The puzzled minister decided that whatever the cause of their non-attendance it would be best if his congregation participated in the healthy sport of flying kites. Not only would this activity bring his flock together as a community, but since the kites would be flown from atop a hill the congregation would be all the closer to heaven!

       

Hot Cross Buns

Bread decorated with crosses has been eaten by people for centuries. Remains of crossed bread were found in the ruins of the Roman town of Herculaneum, and there is evidence that the ancient Greeks had their own version of cross buns. At the Saxon festival of spring, buns inscribed with crosses were eaten in honour of the goddess of light, Eoster.


Now, crossed buns are most likely to be associated with the Christian festival of Easter, with the cross on top of the bun representing the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.


Hot cross buns in Bermuda have a special significance – there was a superstition that if a homeowner did not consume one on Good Friday that their house would be burned to the ground. Check out our recipes for hot cross buns and fishcakes in our Blog, and feel free to add your own in the recipes section of Bermuda’s Talking.

 

     Bermuda hot cross bun

Codfish Cakes

The custom of eating codfish in Bermuda has a long history. During the 18th Century, Bermuda sloops traded with Newfoundland and brought cheap and plentiful salt cod back to Bermuda to feed slaves. It became traditional to eat codfish and potatoes for breakfast on a Sunday before attending church. This is still common today – codfish and potatoes served with a creamy or tomato-based sauce with fresh local bananas on the side is a popular local breakfast or brunch.

 

Around Easter time in Bermuda, codfish is most usually consumed in the form of a fishcake, accompanied by a little mayonnaise or hot sauce and served sandwiched in a sweet hot cross bun. Check out our recipes for hot cross buns and fishcakes in our Blog, and feel free to add your own in the recipes section of Bermuda’s Talking.

 

     Bermuda codfish cakes

Bermuda Easter Lilies and Passion Flowers

Two local flowers are particularly associated with Easter.


The Bermuda Easter lily  (lilium longiflorum var. eximium) is native to the Ryukyu islands of Japan. It

was introduced to Bermuda by a passing ship in the mid 19th Century, and for some time Bermuda commercially produced and exported Easter lilies. This livelihood was curtailed by the combined effect of a virus and a nematode infestation in 1898. A different variety of Easter lily was reintroduced to Bermuda in the early 1920s. They bloom slightly earlier than other varieties of Easter lily, but are still very much a feature of Easter in Bermuda.


The passion flower, a climbing vine of which there is a special Bermuda variety, has many legends associated with it. The Spanish missionaries were some of the first to assign meaning to the flower when they came across it on voyages to South America. They stated that the ten petals represented the ten faithful disciples who neither betrayed nor denied Jesus (i.e. excluding Peter and Judas).

     Bermuda passion flower
       

Other Bermuda Easter Traditions

Many Bermudians start Easter Sunday by attending a Sunday Service at sunrise. Some churches hold these in scenic locations overlooking the water, such as Horseshoe Bay.


After church games of marbles and jacks follow, along with go-cart racing (especially in St. David’s) and kite-flying (island-wide, but the most famous competition is held at Horseshoe Bay Beach).


The Bermuda National Trust run an annual Palm Sunday Walk. The route features local places of scenic and historical interest, and may take the public to areas of the island usually inaccessible or rarely visited.