Cayman Thanksgiving set for early December

Reduced turtle meat price in place for new holiday

The Cayman Islands Cabinet has proclaimed the first Sunday every December – Dec. 7 for this year – as the official date for the observance of Cayman Thanksgiving, marking the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  

Legislative Assembly members suggested that the price of turtle meat for local households could be reduced for the week for families who wish to observe the holiday.  

Turtle Farm officials confirmed Friday that prices would be lowered effective Dec. 1 through Dec. 4 only. Stew meat will be sold on those days at $7 per pound and menavelin (a mix of turtle parts) at $5 per pound. Typically stew meat is sold at $9 per pound and menavelin is $7 per pound. Prices for turtle steak and turtle bone will stay the same. 

“[The] Cayman Turtle Farm is pleased to celebrate and support the new Caymanian tradition of Cayman Thanksgiving,” said farm marketing director Tina Trumbach.  

Culture Minister Osbourne Bodden made the announcement of the holiday in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.  

“Many Caymanians have been celebrating American Thanksgiving for years, some without true knowledge of the reasons why Americans are celebrating,” Mr. Bodden said. “All traditions were born at some point in time, and Cayman Thanksgiving is as Caymanian as it gets.”  

Mr. Bodden said there were also some economic reasons for adding another holiday to the calendar. First, he said, celebrating on a Sunday would not interfere with the usual work week. Also, the new holiday could be used to boost tourism, he said.  

“Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday in both the U.S. and Canada, which are key tourism markets in the Cayman Islands. I believe [Canadians and Americans] will be intrigued by the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving Cayman-style.”  

The Cayman version of Thanksgiving has been unofficially celebrated since 2011, and the idea for it is usually credited to Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose – although Mr. Rose gives credit to his wife for the plan. Mr. Rose also said a number of Caymanian business and community leaders, including Shomari Scott, Pilar Bush and Dan Scott, supported the idea from its inception.  

“If the end of hurricane season comes [on Nov. 30] and we’re all still standing with our families, everyone has something to be thankful for,” Mr. Rose said.  

“Cayman Thanksgiving can be a simple means to start a new national conversation, bridging the generation gap and bringing families together to sit around a table and discuss our food, culture and heritage,” Minister Bodden said. “Caymanians are also actively encouraged to invite a non-Caymanian into their home to introduce them to Caymanian culture and to share a Caymanian meal with them and, possibly, teach them how to make it. 

“A new tradition, one which celebrates all things Caymanian, has been born.”  

Following Mr. Bodden’s announcement in the House, Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly asked: “Does that mean there will be a discount on turtle meat?”  

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller also sought government’s support for the discount and even suggested that a tourism-related event could be staged involving the premier.  

“Invite the premier to pardon a turtle for that day, which could create a new tourism tradition,” Mr. Miller said. “We could charge extra to see the pardoned turtles and it would take [the former World Society for the Protection of Animals, now called the World Animal Protection organization] off our backs.”  

The U.K.-based organization has been critical of the Cayman Turtle Farm for, among other things, the conditions in which turtles being raised for meat at the farm live.  

In the United States, the president annually “pardons” the national Thanksgiving turkey. 

Mr. Bodden said government had asked the Turtle Farm for a price reduction, but could not dictate the response.  

“[As for the turtle pardoning], I will leave that to the goodly premier to respond, but I think it could be a good gimmick,” Mr. Bodden said.  


  1. A very good gesture Pardon a turtle for that day; however we should pardon three turtles for that day representing one for each of the islands. Just a thought,
    Also since all countries will be observing their traditional way of cooking, I do hope across the Cayman Islands we will see our traditional dish being served, and since turtle meat will be reduced this week, I do hope the restaurants will also reduce the price of serving which is between 14 and 16 dollars a plate.

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