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By Monica Walton
Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of year in the Cayman Islands. Twinkling palm trees line the roads, homes and yards are draped in sparkling, colourful lights, and the almost sinful smell of homemade heavy cake wafts down the decorated streets. Nothing quite beats the way Caymanians celebrate this particular holiday, and here are a few reasons why.
Food is Always Cooking
Christmas beef, cassava cake, heavy cake, fruitcake... during this time of year, most Caymanians will don an apron and practically live in the kitchen to cook up as many sweet-smelling treats as they can. Sure, this is a common sight in many countries during the holiday season, but there is something special about Caribbean-style Christmas cuisine that is extra comforting and homey.
With a fascinating seafaring history, Christmas in the Cayman Islands has always been about family. It was a time when the seamen came home, saw their loved ones and told tales of being at sea. This time of year is still reserved for gathering around, sharing stories and relishing in just being together. It’s not just about immediate family, either. Distant cousins and close friends will all reunite to fill their bellies with food and wine and spread Christmas cheer, and in Cayman, there’s never a shortage of family members and good friends.
There’s no better place for a magical Winter celebration than in the Cayman Islands. With events and parties taking place on most nights leading up to Christmas Day, you won’t be short on entertainment. From Santa photo ops for kids at Camana Bay to upscale Winter wonderland-themed parties, December is always buzzing with parties and unique events. Aside from public events, residents are always excited to throw private holiday parties at home. You can expect to wear a variety of costumes for the festivities, as most parties are themed. From dressing in all white to sporting your most absolutely gaudy Christmas sweater, you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the perfect outfit to match the theme.
Cayman has so many wonderful traditions, especially during Christmastime. One of the most special traditions is the “sand yard,” which is the Cayman version of a white Christmas. Families gather white sand from the beach and rake it over their yards to resemble snow. Who needs cold white snow on their yard when you can have warm white sand? Another tradition, which is far more difficult to come by in recent years, is the kid’s kitchen. Parents would often help children build a small hut out in the yard, usually from thatch and sticks. Kids would spend hours playing and laughing, and even cooking food of their own. If you’re lucky and do enough searching, you might still catch a glimpse of this unique tradition.
It may not ever be a true Winter wonderland in Cayman, but during Christmas you will never feel nor see a shortage of holiday spirit and cheer. Giant, swirling candy canes, frosted ornaments and magical Santa’s grottos are dotted across yards, whilst rows of homes are illuminated with sprawling decorations. What really makes this special is that you’ll find a Caribbean twist on traditional decorations wherever you look. There’s just something about a glow-in-the-dark palm tree that puts you in a festive mood.
You'll experience Caymankindness across the Island at any time of year, but at Christmas you’ll feel it even more so. It may not seem like it’s possible, but locals are even more social and generous than usual. You’ll be invited to eat and drink the days away, and you’ll find yourself singing and dancing into the late evening. Maybe it’s the eggnog, the buzzing Christmas markets or the bright lights at every turn — whatever it is, you’ll feel the joyous holiday spirit in the air, and it’s infectious.
The idea of watching snow fall through a frost-covered window whilst being curled up under a blanket might be appealing to some, but so is laying outdoors on the warm sand whilst sipping on a fruity cocktail and listening to the waves roll in. December is the time of year when the island climate is just right. It’s not overwhelmingly hot, making a trip to the beach around the holiday season so much more enjoyable. Just think: Whilst people up north are being bundled up in layers of clothing, you could be wearing a swimsuit on Seven Mile Beach and working on your tan.
From Christmas concerts to carol singers to church events, at Christmas, music pulsates through the streets, spreading a shared love for this time of year. Much like the food and décor, you’ll find a Caribbean twist on Christmas classics. Steel drums and other tropical instruments fill the air with your favourite songs, making sure you’re in the spirit, whilst also reminding you that you’re lucky enough to spend the holidays on the beautiful Islands.
Yes, We Have Christmas Trees
Although they don't naturally grow here, traditional pine trees are a Christmas staple on the Islands. Imported a few months before, trees are usually snapped up quickly to be brilliantly embellished. Adorned with glittering crystal balls, beads and ribbons, there’s nothing quite like a Cayman Christmas tree.
INSIDER TIPS FOR EXCITING CHRISTMAS EVENTS