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12/27/2010

Boxing Day in Grand Cayman

While celebrating Christmas with my family this weekend, it occurred to me that most people that travel to Grand Cayman would not anticipate a national public holiday on December 26th. I want to give a little background information on the December 26th holiday celebrated in the Cayman Islands to better prepare you for a holiday trip to the Islands.

One of the first times I ever visited Grand Cayman we arrived late on the night of the 23rd of December. We figured we'd go to to the store and stock up on groceries first thing in the morning on the 24th. Much to our disappointment, we found all stores, markets, and shops to be closed in observance of Christmas Eve. We knew we were going to be waiting a couple days to get groceries because they would definitely be closed for Christmas Day. What we didn't anticipate was everything being closed for a third consecutive day. We asked around to find out why shops were closed on December 26th. The reason? Observance of the national holiday called Boxing Day. What in the world is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a public holiday that is celebrated on December 26th. It is observed in Australia, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Since the Cayman Islands are a British colony, they observe Boxing Day as well. When Boxing Day falls on a weekend, then the next Monday becomes Boxing Day. Originally the name Boxing Day was given because it was a day where the Christmas Box was a wooden or clay container where people placed gifts and on December 26th, the boxes were opened up and the contents were given to the poor. The original concept of Boxing Day was to share gifts with the less fortunate.

For example, a box would be placed in every church on Christmas Day allowing worshipers to place gifts for the poor. The gifts remained in the box until December 26th, at which point they were opened. Today, in some countries they treat Boxing Day as another opportunity for bargain shopping, much like the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. However, the Cayman Islands remain mostly shut down on December 26th, leaving gas stations and restaurants as your only options for food items, while waiting for the grocery stores to open up again on the 27th.

So next time you travel to the Cayman Islands around the holidays, remember that most grocery stores are closed on the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December. Couple this with the facts that grocery stores are always closed on Sundays and you could be looking at several days without being able to buy groceries, especially if you were to arrive on Saturday, December 22nd for example. This is a helpful tip to keep in mind when planning a trip to Grand Cayman.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and is looking forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011.

 

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