The second Monday of October is National Heritage Day in Turks and Caicos. National Heritage Day is a public holiday set up in 2014 as a replacement for the no longer celebrated Columbus Day. The dates of the old and new holidays are identical, but the meaning is somewhat different.
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Instead of focusing on the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the focus is on celebrating the history and culture of the islands. The traditions of the past that have been passed on to new generations and enriched the culture are lifted up and celebrated on this day.
There are organised patriotic activities all over the islands. Kids do things like sing the national anthem, make their own Turks and Caicos flags, and learn the meaning of national symbols. Some even plant native gardens to get in touch with the islands’ natural beauty.
But easily the most prominent aspect of the celebrations is the playing of “ripsaw music”, a unique musical style of Turks and Caicos. It includes the scraping of a saw with metal objects to produce unusual sounds. But drums, maracas, guitars, accordions, and other instruments also join in.
And the events and celebrations aren’t limited to a single day because all of October is “National Heritage Month” in Turks and Caicos.