The island of Saint Helena celebrates its national day, Saint Helena’s Day, every 21 May. This is the day in 1502 that Portuguese navigator Joao da Nova is traditionally thought to have discovered the island. As 21 May was the feast day of Saint Helena of Constantinople, he named the island after that saint.
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However, there are some modern disputations as to when Saint Helena was actually discovered, some thinking it may have been 3 May, but the traditional view is still most popular and the basis of the holiday’s date.
Festivities are of a patriotic nature. They begin with a parade from Saint Helena’s main tourist office through Main Street and down to the sea. There is then a much-attended church service led by the local bishop.
Throughout the day, you will find all manner of festive events, from tug of war to dress-up contests to football competitions and a miniature marathon. You will find street stalls asking for donations to worthy island causes, selling food and beverages, or selling souvenirs.
A float parade from the local hospital takes place during the afternoon of Saint Helena’s Day. It also goes through Main Street (and Market Street) and ends up at the sea. There is always a lot of music, dancing, and at day’s end, a fireworks display.