An Island Twist on Traditional Thanksgiving

Celebrated each year on the first Sunday in December, Cayman Thanksgiving is a time for families, friends and neighbours to get together and honour their Caymanian heritage and culture through food, music and family fellowship.


On Saturday 6 December, locals, residents and visitors are all invited to browse the stalls of home-grown produce, mingle with local farmers and enjoy traditional family-friendly music and entertainment at the Stacey Watler Agricultural Pavilion in Lower Valley, Grand Cayman. This year, there will also be stalls for the first time at the Agriculture Grounds in Cayman Brac.

This full day of revelry is followed by a slower-paced Sunday afternoon on 7 December when Caymanian families open their hearts and homes to break bread with residents and visitors around a common dining table. According to Samuel Rose, this Caymanian feast pays homage to Cayman’s culinary heritage of yesteryear when family meals were prepared with food directly from the sea and farm. “Our local farmers and fishermen are the backbone of our culinary heritage,” he says. “The challenge is to use only local produce to prepare your Cayman Thanksgiving meal, the way it would have been done years before.”

Fresh fish from the Fish Market is a staple of the Cayman Thanksgiving menu

In addition to taking traditional Thanksgiving fellowship and putting a Caymanian spin on things, Cayman Thanksgiving is specifically celebrated during the first weekend in December to officially recognise the passing of another hurricane season. “As we marked this year the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman and the five-year anniversary since Hurricane Paloma hit Cayman Brac there is no shortage of things for us to be thankful for in Cayman,” says Samuel.

The idea for the Cayman Thanksgiving, now in its fourth year, initially came about following a conversation Samuel had with his then eight-year-old daughter. “She asked my wife, Elkie, and I why we celebrate American Thanksgiving; why Cayman does not have its own version of Thanksgiving,” he remembers. “That question got me thinking. So we planned a special Cayman-themed Thanksgiving dinner for her, and it was then that we realised how special the idea really was and felt compelled to share it with our community.

Fry thin wedges of roasted breadfruit for a tasty dish simple enough to be served as an appetiser or a side dish

“Today, Cayman Thanksgiving reintroduces and promotes the unique culture characteristic of the Cayman Islands through the weekend’s activities; that is, the kindness of sharing and caring for our neighbours.”

Admission is CI$10 for adults to enter the market day at the Stacey Watler Agricultural Pavilion in Grand Cayman and the Agriculture Grounds in Cayman Brac. Tickets can be purchased at the gate on the day of the event. Admission is free for children under 12 years of age.

. . .

Published: Skies Magazine, November 2014

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