Canary Day: Sailing upon hope

The community of the Canary Islands has its own flag; a tricolour of sunshine yellow, cloud white and ocean blue. It has its own coat of arms showing two dogs supporting a shield with seven white islands and the simple motto “Ocean”. It has its own anthem based on an ancient lullaby sung by generations of mothers to their infants, and it has its own official bird and plant – the canary and the Canarian palm.

All these emblems are relatively recent, decided by a Canarian Parliament which first met on 30th May 1983, the date which will be celebrated this month as Canary Island Day. But all over this chain of islands, far older, deeper cultural traditions will also be celebrated.

They include a rich cuisine that takes its influences from three continents; a vibrant musical legacy whose influence has reached the Caribbean and beyond; an exuberant artistic style that is nowhere better represented than on Lanzarote; attractive and practical costumes; strange and fascinating sports; unique farming techniques; a rich dialect spoken (or whistled) in a lilting accent and a tolerant, welcoming attitude.

This month, all of these , and much more, will be celebrated on eight islands that are looking towards the future, hand-in hand.

I am history and the future
The heart that lights up the dawn
Of islands that awaken
Sailing upon hope

From “Arrorro” – the Canarian anthem