What the Locals Do in Bermuda

Enjoy Salt Cod Fish and Potatoes

The custom of eating this traditional Sunday brunch dish dates back to the 18th century, when Bermuda sloops traded with Newfoundland and brought cheap and plentiful salt cod back to Bermuda to feed the slaves. The fish is served with hard-boiled eggs, bananas, avocado, and boiled potatoes with a tomato-and-onion-based sauce on the side.

Save Summer for after May 24

Bermuda Day—May 24—marks the official start of summer, and the date is forever etched on a Bermudian’s mind. Regardless of the rising temperatures, true Bermudians would rather swelter in long pants than switch to their summer wardrobe before the all-important date. Bermudians won’t even dip their toes in the water or take their boats out a day earlier than May 24. It’s a public holiday and is celebrated with a running and cycling race, followed by a parade.

Speak Bermudian

Despite the island's close ties to Britain, you won't hear many true English accents here. In fact, most locals speak with a distinctly Caribbean-esque cadence, their sentences sprinkled with a new lingo of often confusing "Bermewjan Vurds." The native tongue strings words together and has a tendency to swap the letter w for the letter v. "Up the country" means anything west of Hamilton and "down the country" means anywhere east of Hamilton. If you’re "going shrew de trees," you’re getting married. If you like the taste of something, it’s "well." An empty cocktail is at "low tide," and depending on how drunk you are, you will be labeled anything from "hot" to "full hot."

Give Color-Coded Instructions

Every cottage here is proudly painted in a pastel color, and no one dares to paint his or her home a color like that of a neighbor. Names and numbers of buildings are often irrelevant, as directions are dished out in a color-by-numbers kind of way. You’ll be told to take a right at the pink building and then a left when you get to the yellow house. It’s much the same story when ordering a taxi; the operator will take an address, but "What color is your place?" will automatically be asked.

Mind your Manners

You won’t get very far in Bermuda until you learn the unwritten rule of greeting complete strangers with a "Good Morning" or a "Good Afternoon," followed quickly with "How are you?" It doesn’t matter where you are, every conversation has to be started with those all important words—a simple hi won’t cut it. Try to get on a bus or buy something in a store without a friendly greeting and see what happens. You have been warned.

Catch Cup Match Fever

On the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August, Bermuda takes a two-day holiday ostensibly to watch the Cup Match: an annual cricket game pitting the West End against the East End. Locals clearly take the event seriously. Cup Match fever, for instance, takes hold weeks in advance, when team colors start flying from houses and vehicles islandwide. Cup Match is also an excuse to party. While the players concentrate on whacking a leather ball through a wicket, the spectators focus on food (anyone for mussel pie?), fun fashions, pulsating music, and the 19th-century betting game, Crown and Anchor.

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