The International Day of Friendship is an annual observance on 30 July established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 with the idea that friendship between people, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
People from more than 120 countries from around the world now call the Cayman Islands their home. It is virtually impossible to live on Grand Cayman without “rubbing elbows” with people from a variety of countries. The mix of so many cultures here doesn’t always promote agreement, but Caymanians are generally a welcoming people and most expatriate residents are respectful of their hosts.
The cultural diversity found in such a small place as Grand Cayman is unique and the rich understanding of people from different parts of the world that it offers is something worth celebrating. Starting this month, the Camana Bay Times will look at some of the customs and traditions of different cultures represented in the Cayman Islands.
CANADA DAY – 1 JULY
Originally known as Dominion Day, Canada Day celebrates the enactment of the Constitution Act of 1867 which united the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Canada Day is observed on 1 July with a public holiday, unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case 2 July generally becomes the public holiday, or if it falls on a Saturday, in which case 30 June generally becomes the public holiday. Canada Day is celebrated with festivals and fireworks and gathering of friends and family.
“We didn’t get many beach days in Canada because summer was short. So we would go to the beach and have a barbecue and spend time with the family,” says frequent Camana Bay visitor Paula Tathum, who is originally from Prince Edward Island, Canada. PEI, as it is often called, is sometimes referred to as “The Birthplace of Canada” because it served as the host to the first conference to discuss a confederation of the three British North American maritime colonies and the Province of Canada. The Constitution Act that formed the Dominion of Canada was proclaimed on 1 July 1867, which means this year’s Canada Day marks the 150-year anniversary of Canada.
(CAYMAN ISLANDS) – 3 JULY
Observed with a public holiday annually on the first Monday of July, Constitution Day celebrates the adoption of the Cayman Islands’ first constitution in 1959. The constitution gave women the right to vote for the first time.
In the Cayman Islands, the Constitution Day public holiday is mostly a beach and boating day, with food and drink mixed in. For many years, the Taste of Cayman and annual Chili Cook-Off took place on the Constitution Day weekend, but in recent years, Camana Bay has been the centre of Constitution Day activity, hosting fireworks displays, music and food in a festival-like atmosphere. This year, carnival games were added to the programme, which was billed “Lights by the Bay.”
(UNITED STATES) – 4 JULY
More commonly known in the United States as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, Independence Day commemorates the 13 original American colonies’ Declaration of Independence from the British Empire in 1776. Although Americans typically celebrate the holiday on the 4th of July no matter what day of the week it falls on, there is always a public holiday associated with Independence Day. If 4 July falls on a Saturday, then the public holiday is on 3 July; if 4 July is on a Sunday, then the public holiday is on 5 July.
For most Americans, the Fourth of July often starts with a patriotic morning parade. It is a popular day to go to the beach or to a park for a picnic, or hosting or going to a barbecue with family and friends. Simple iconic foods like hot dogs and hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, deviled eggs and watermelon are usually on the menu. Most homes in the U.S. display American flags and people often wear red, white and blue clothing. Evening fireworks round out the day’s festivities.
“That was the day to be patriotic,” says Farmer Clarence McLaughlin, a mainstay at Camana Bay Farmers & Artisans Market. Farmer Clarence was born in Cayman Brac, but moved to Brooklyn, New York, when he was 11 and spent some 25 years living full time in the United States. He remembers the Fourth of July as a day of family barbecues with chicken and ribs, and fireworks after dark.
BASTILLE DAY (FRANCE) – 14 JULY
France’s National Day – officially called “la fête nationale” and more widely known now in France simply as “le 14 juillet” – is what the English-speaking world calls Bastille Day.
The national holiday commemorates the storming of the Bastille – a fortress, armory and political prison in Paris – on 14 July, 1789, an event that served as a turning point in the French Revolution. Bastille Day is always observed on 14 July, regardless of what day of the week it falls on; however many of the organised celebrations often take place on the evening of 13 July to allow people to revel late into the evening the night before since the next day there is no school and most people don’t have to work.
Bruno Deluche, owner of Petit Paris in Camana Bay, remembers the Bastille Day carnival-like celebrations of his childhood in Limoges, France.
“There would be a bonfire burning all night and fireworks,” he says. “There would be bands playing traditional music, dancing, crafts, barbecue-style foods, lemonade and Orangina.”
Bruno remembers going to the celebrations with his parents, but as he got older, not sticking with them very long.
“We would get there after 6pm and I would go with my friends. I wouldn’t see my parents again until after midnight, when we were going home.”