Celebrating Discovery Day: Unveiling the Rich Heritage of the Cayman Islands
Monday, May 15th, marks Discovery Day, which is celebrated as a national holiday in the Cayman Islands.Falling on the third Monday in May every year, Discovery Day commemorates the sighting of the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman by Christopher Columbus in 1503. It is a day on which Caymanians celebrate their heritage.
On May 10, 1503, Christopher Columbus and his men, on their fourth voyage to the Americas, were the first Europeans to sight and describe Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which gave Spain a claim to the islands by right of discovery. Columbus did not stop at the islands, but he did name them, calling them Las Tortugas due to the large number of sea turtles the crew spotted as they sailed past.
Turtle kraals were used all over the Cayman Islands in past generations to store captured sea turtles for consumption. – Photo: UK National Archives, Colonial Office photographic collection
Today, the Cayman Islands are known for their breathtaking natural beauty and abundant marine life, which attracts tourists from all over the world. Discovery Day serves as a reminder of the islands’ rich history and the importance of preserving their natural resources.
Residents are encouraged to demonstrate support for environmental protection, activities such as Tree Planting Day is encourage on Discovery Day. It is an opportunity to do something positive for the community and the environment by reconnecting with nature. Planting trees not only helps combat climate change but also enhances the beauty of the islands and provides habitat for local wildlife.
On this special day, schools and public offices are closed, allowing families to come together and celebrate. Many choose to spend time outdoors, enjoying the stunning beaches, going on hikes, or participating in community events. It is a time for Caymanians to reflect on their heritage, appreciate the beauty of their islands, and strengthen their sense of community.
Throughout the day, various events and activities take place across the islands. Cultural exhibitions showcase the traditions, music, and dance of the Caymanian people. Local artisans display their craftsmanship, offering a chance to admire and purchase unique handmade products. Food stalls offer mouthwatering local cuisine, allowing residents and visitors to savor the flavors of the islands.
Discovery Day is also an opportunity for Caymanians to express gratitude for their national heroes. These individuals have made significant contributions to the islands and have played a crucial role in shaping the Caymanian community. Their achievements are recognised and celebrated during the National Heroes Day ceremony, held at Heroes Square in George Town. Awards and honors are bestowed upon deserving recipients, inspiring others to strive for excellence and contribute positively to society.
National Heroes Day
As Discovery Day approaches, excitement fills the air, and anticipation builds for a day of celebration, reflection, and unity. It is a time when the Cayman Islands come alive with pride and joy, as residents come together to honor their history, embrace their culture, and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
Discovery Day in the Cayman Islands is not only a holiday but also a significant occasion to cherish the natural beauty, culture, and history of the islands. It serves as a reminder to protect and preserve the environment, fostering a sense of responsibility towards the land and sea that make the Cayman Islands truly special.