Bermuda’s Onion Night

Bermuda used to export onions… and lots of them. The island was famous for growing some of the best in the world and in the late 19th century, the trade was booming, with the vegetable becoming not just a staple but a cash crop, traded with the US and the UK.  The word ‘onion’ came to be synonymous with ‘something super cool’ on the island. Predictably, US growers quickly got wise – they planted their own onions, marketed them as ‘Bermuda Onions’ and sold them minus the expensive costs of shipping. By 1923 exports had dropped from 153,000 crates at the peak, to just over 21,000 annually as the Bermudian farmers were undercut.

Still, the legend of the onion lives on at New Year, where, upon the stroke of midnight, a giant onion, fully decked out in lights and topped with palm tree fronds, is ‘dropped’ from the Town Hall in St. George’s Town Square. If a Bermudian can’t make it to the St. George’s celebrations, they will rifle through the fridge on the 31st of December to re-enact this tradition with a real (albeit smaller) onion.

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