April 17th is Easter Monday and there is no better way to celebrate this Legal Holiday in Bonaire than by attending the Simadan, or Harvest Festival in Rincon.
Simadan stems from Bonaire’s slave days and celebrates the growing season’s harvest (typically March/April). The festive harvest celebration in Bonaire varies from other places, perhaps, as a direct result of the way slaves on Bonaire were treated.
Bonaire’s slaves grew crops for owners and some were permitted personal crops as well, a “liberty” not usually afforded to slaves elsewhere. Personal gains gave Bonairean slaves reason to celebrate at Simadan, while slaves in Curacao, for example, witnessed harvest going only to the owners and lamented instead.
After Bonaire’s slavery abolition in 1863, most slaves received land. Together, families took turns helping to harvest and celebrating the crops throughout Simadan. Similarly today, families and friends gather to help harvest sorghum and maize, while the farmer supplies food and drink (rum) for the party.