The Cayman Thanksgiving has grown leaps and bounds as a means for Caymanians to celebrate their culture and identity.
Cayman Thanksgiving was begun last year and is commemorated on the weekend preceding the first Sunday in December. Organisers say this is an opportunity to collectively express gratitude, mark the passage of the hurricane season and celebrate a Caymankind of holiday.
The festivities will run from 30 November to 2 December with the Homecoming Concert kicking off the weekend featuring some of Cayman’s brightest musical talent. The Market at the Grounds will take place on Saturday, 1 December, to give the community an opportunity to purchase local produce for their Thanksgiving meals. It will feature cooking demos, arts and crafts and children’s activities. The Thanksgiving Meal is a time for getting together and is the heart of the celebration. It takes place on the Sunday and is a way for the community to come together around the theme of Caymanian culture.
As part of the celebration this year, there are several components of how Cayman Thanksgiving will be permanently cemented in the community’s consciousness and be listed on the Islands’ yearly calendar of events. Among these is an educational campaign that is being spearheaded by a special committee tasked with designing, promoting and disseminating information about the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands.
As part of the educational aspect of the Cayman Thanksgiving, school presentations and assembly appearances are planned where focus is placed on educating youth about Cayman Thanksgiving and the celebration of the Islands’ culture, history and heritage.
“Our aim is to involve the community and encourage their participation in the Cayman Thanksgiving. Many people may have heard about it and may still not be aware of what it’s all about. The Homecoming Concert, which many will remember, is one part but we also want to share the spirit of yesterday. That is the reason we are encouraging families to have a Thanksgiving dinner, where they prepare a traditional dish and invite non-Caymanians to join them when possible,” noted Liz Smith of the Cayman Thanksgiving Education and Awareness subcommittee. She pointed out that inclusion of Cayman Thanksgiving in the school curriculum for children as young as five is another way in which the committee is attempting to bring youngsters into the yearly celebration by making them aware of the philosophy behind Cayman Thanksgiving.
Another way the community will be engaged is through a multi-faceted, interactive website at caymanthanksgiving.ky.
The site will also serve the purpose of educating youths across the Cayman Islands on the heritage and culture of the Islands via a youth page on the website that will feature a crossword puzzle that challenges the solver the find words that relate to Caymanian culture such as cassava cake, conch stew and such. There are also word searches included, as well as colouring and word puzzles. Several iguanas crossing the road is the backdrop for one game that challenges participants to get correct answers on culture or risk having their iguana being stuck in the road.
There will also be a component from each ministry that will features cartoon characters in the image of cultural icons of the Cayman Islands who will tell stories. Included among these is Jack the Donkey, who is the mascot for Cayman Thanksgiving. Myra the iguana has no voice and is meant to be a representative for the differently-abled. She will communicate through word bubbles and a communication board. Tommy the Parrot will tell the site’s visitor’s about the Brac, while Kira the Stingray gives a spiel about her life in Little Cayman and the Brac, though she comes to Grand Cayman sometimes. There’s also Miss Lucy from West Bay for whom notable Drummer and Musician Aunt Julia Hydes’ voice will serve. Mr. Willie will inform everyone about George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands and Cindy the turtle is the cursor on the page. She symbolically travels all around.