The Pitcairn Islands celebrate a rather unique holiday called Bounty Day on 23 January. It commemorates a mutiny aboard the British ship HMS Bounty that occurred in the year 1789.
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The Bounty was on a mission in the Pacific to buy breadfruit to be shipped to the UK’s West Indies’ colonies. The voyage began late in 1787, but on 28 April 1789, the ship’s crew revolted and seized control of the vessel.
No one was killed in the mutiny, but the rebels knew they could never return home to the UK without facing trial and likely being hung. Therefore, they tried to settle on the island of Tubai but were driven out by the natives. Then some of them settled on Tahiti instead, while others settled on Pitcairn Island.
The ship’s captain and some crew members loyal to him had been set adrift after the mutiny, and they eventually reached England alive. A ship was then sent to find and arrest the mutineers. Those on Tahiti were captured, but those on Pitcairn were not. Most of them died before being found.
On 15 January, 1790, the mutineers sailing HMS Bounty rediscovered the true location of Pitcairn Island, which had been wrongly charted by the UK Navy at the time. On 23 January, the Bounty was burned to prevent being found by any UK search parties.
Today, most of the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island descend from the mutineers of the HMS Bounty, which explains why this would be an occasion for a holiday. The cultural impact of the Mutiny on the Bounty has also become almost legendary and spread throughout the English-speaking world.
Although visitors to Pitcairn Island are about as few as the inhabitants, there is still a celebration on Bounty Day. The main event is the burning of a gigantic model of HMS Bounty and a sumptuous feast.
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