The culture of Bermuda is surprisingly British for a tropical island. While other Caribbean islands have an international or Creole flavor, Bermuda has been most influenced by its British colonizers. That said, the heritage of its African inhabitants has played an important role as well.
While other islands saw many transfers of political power between the British, French, Spanish, and even Dutch who were squabbling over territories in the West Indies, Bermuda was left to its own devices as a British colony. This political stability has resulted in a nearly unadulterated replication of British culture. In the past, the island's middle-class citizens of English descent worked to turn Bermuda into a middle-class England of their own.
Everything from language to sports is done the British way on Bermuda – in fact, you'll even find judges wearing the traditional British powdered wig. Much of the island lingo is British as well. From "bobbies" directing traffic to the popularity of, pubs and cricket, Anglophiles may find themselves right at home without having to cross the big pond to visit the U.K.
The conservative air of the British has also found its way into the Bermudian culture. This island is restrained and polite, and the atmosphere is very formal. Despite the tropical weather of Bermuda, the majority of the islanders wear stockings and heels for women, while the men wear jackets and ties both during the day and at night. It has even been said that Bermuda is a "middle-aged" country, as most of the native islanders are over the age of 40, and so are most of its visitors.
...island dialects have distinct accents...
Some islanders still speak the Queen's English, but most of the island dialects have distinct accents which is a reflection of the island's mixed heritage, which includes English, African, West Indian, and American influences. The population of 60,000 people is 63 percent black, 33 percent white, and 4 percent Asian and other.
Similarly, while many other islands offer incredible Creole dishes spiced with many local flavors, traditional dishes on Bermuda are also British. Expect "bangers and mash" instead of spicy jerk dishes. Bermuda's distance from the Caribbean isles also separates it from the influences of their local cuisines.
Although Bermudian cuisine is highly influenced by the British culture, there are some foods on the island that feature a one-of-a-kind blend of ingredients prepared in a unique way. The dishes of the island are a reflection of its fascinatingly rich history and heritage. One of the most common elements found in Bermudian cuisine is fish. As a staple food on the island, fish is eaten at almost any meal of the day. Dishes like fish chowder and panfried fish are traditional fare served on the island. Other dishes that are commonly served on the island include cassava pie, mussel pie, and delicious Bermudian desserts like loquat and bananas baked in rum and brown sugar.
The main African influence on Bermuda is found in the island's music and dance traditions. Interestingly, African dance traditions have embraced the Christian faith practiced by most of the islanders.
Particularly notable is the Gombey dance, which originated in African tribal dance but incorporated elements from Christian missionaries, British soldiers, and native tribes. While the dance may seem haphazard, it follows specific rhythms and often tells Biblical stories. These dances are most often performed on New Year's Day and Boxing Day (the day after Christmas).
Music is also heavily influenced by African and West Indian styles. The most popular sounds are calypso, reggae, and the rhythms of the Gombey dance. While two cultures dominate the culture of Bermuda, the combination has created a uniquely tropical feel to this otherwise British island. Vacationers will find plenty to enjoy in this tropical holdover from British domination.
Though the times are changing, Bermuda still represents everything used to represent, including the islanders' propensity for protocol and love for pomp and ceremony. Other nations have also helped to shape the island's culture, including the U.S. Many vacationers are drawn to Bermuda to experience its sophisticated English character as well as the beautiful surf and sand.
Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.