Like July, August is a month of celebrating the independence of several countries from which many Cayman Islands residents are citizens. August 6 will see the 55th anniversary
of Jamaican independence; on August 15, India will celebrate its 70th anniversary of independence; and on August 31 Trinidad and Tobago will, like Jamaica, toast to its 55th anniversary of independence. Around the world, August is also a month for other cultural events.
NATIONAL JAMAICAN PATTY DAY
Starting in 2015, the first Saturday in August was christened “National Jamaican Patty Day” to celebrate the savoury turnover-style pastry that is so popular in Jamaica. But, as any Cayman Islands resident can tell you, patties are extremely popular here as well.
Patties are similar to Spanish empanadas and Cornish pasties, either of which could have served as inspirations for the first Jamaican patties. Through the Cayman Islands’ historical connection with Jamaica, patties were introduced to Grand Cayman at least as far back as the 1930s. They became available for purchase in the 1960s at the old Wholesome Bakery, which was located in what is now called the Waterfront Centre on North Church Street.
Unlike Jamaican patties, the Wholesome Bakery’s version had a smooth crust instead of a flaky one, and they were stuffed fat with beef filling. Island Taste, which was founded in 1975 and was once located on the George Town Harbour where Hard Rock Cafe now stands, still makes its own beef patties, as well as chicken and vegetable patties. In 2008, from its shop in the Caymanian Village shopping plaza, Island Taste started selling Jamaican Juici-brand patties as well. Cayman Islands patties, like their Jamaican cousins, have a distinctive Scotch bonnet pepper flavour and are popular for breakfast, often washed down with orange juice, and for lunch.
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY/ASSUMPTION DAY
A major Catholic feast that marks the end of the Virgin Mary’s earthly life and her taking up into Heaven, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary also has cultural significance in many countries around the world.
In Italy, Assumption Day is linked to Ferragosto, one of the most important holidays of the year. Dating back to Roman times, Ferragosto links ancient Italy with Christian Italy and it is a day of family, friends and food. Italian emigrants have continued the tradition of celebrating Assumption in various cities. In Cleveland, Ohio, for example, a Feast of the Assumption Festival has been held annually since 1898 in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood. In addition to its religious significance, this four-day street festival celebrates Cleveland’s Italian cultural heritage with food, music, games, carnival rides and fireworks.
One of the strangest cultural events in August started in the small town of Buñol in Valencia, Spain, in 1945. In a fit of rage, a young parade participant started throwing vegetables from a market stall at people and the situation devolved into a full-fledged food fight. It was so much fun that the following year, young people picked a fake quarrel with one another and starting pelting each other with tomatoes they had brought from home. A tradition was started.
Now, La Tomatina is an official Spanish tourism event that takes place in Buñol the last Wednesday of every August. Here, up to 20,000 people gather for a ticketed food fight festival and throw some 100 metric tonnes of overripe tomatoes at one another over the course of an hour.