A gala dinner held at CedarBridge Academy on Sunday, ushered in the first one-off public holiday on Monday in recognition of the 170th anniversary marking the arrival of the first Portuguese immigrants to Bermuda.

Speaking at the event to honour the President of the Regional Government of the Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, Lovitta Foggo, reinforced the significance of Portuguese heritage in Bermuda.

“As you’re keenly aware, in 1849, the first Portuguese immigrants arrived on Bermuda’s shores from Madeira, leaving behind their families and all that is familiar,” she said.

“For nearly two centuries, their vibrant customs, unique traditions, distinct language and fascinating personal histories have been woven into Bermuda’s story.

“President Cordeiro, our Portuguese residents have played a significant role in Bermuda’s social, economic, political and cultural advancement. Their contributions have been immeasurable.

“As the Minister responsible for Community and Cultural Affairs, I not only look forward to sharing with you more about our efforts to help raise awareness about our Portuguese heritage throughout our community, but I also look forward to reinforcing our shared cultural commonalities,” she added.

Other events held on Sunday included a special mass at St Theresa’s Cathedral, attended by President Cordeiro, Governor John Rankin, Premier David Burt and several Cabinet Ministers.

A ceremonial procession was held after the service through the streets of Hamilton, where the President walked alongside Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton.

President Cordeiro and a delegation from the Azores are visiting the Island through to November 5.