Emancipation Day becomes an additional holiday

| 07/03/2024 | 89 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has had a change of heart and decided to retain the long-standing Discovery Day holiday in May and, starting this year, to add Emancipation Day as an additional public holiday. As a result, employees will be entitled to a day off on the first Monday in May for the new Emancipation Day holiday and on the third Monday in May for Discovery Day, increasing the number of public holidays by one for a total of twelve annually.

In November 2023, it was announced that Emancipation Day, which had been replaced by Constitution Day in the 1960s, would be reinstated to once again formally commemorate the abolishment of slavery in the Cayman Islands.

It was decided that it would replace Discovery Day, celebrated each year in May, and would be held on the first Monday of that month so that it would be on or close to the anniversary of 5 May 1835, when Captain Anthony Pack, of the 84th Regiment of Foot and Colonel in Chief of the Militia of the Cayman Islands, read the Proclamation of Emancipation to the assembled inhabitants of Bodden Town.

However, according to a summary of the Cabinet meeting on 20 February, ministers approved the addition of Emancipation Day to the Public Holiday Act (2007 Revision) as well as the retention of Discovery Day.

This was confirmed in a media bulletin on Thursday, which stated that both days will now be official public holidays. Emancipation Day will be celebrated on the first Monday of May, and Discovery Day will be marked on the third Monday of May — the 6th and the 20th in 2024.

Discovery Day marks the fact that on his fourth voyage to the Americas, Christopher Colombus came across Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in May 1503, though neither he nor his men came ashore.

Cayman will also celebrate the King’s official birthday in June. Although Charles III’s actual birthday is in November, he is continuing the tradition begun by his great-great-grandfather, Edward VII, who was King from 1901 to 1910, of celebrating the monarch’s official birthdays in the summer months. Even though it is not a public holiday in the UK, it has been an official holiday across much of the Commonwealth for many years.

A few years ago, Cayman also introduced Cayman Thanksgiving on 1 December to mark the end of the hurricane season, but this has not been made into an official public holiday.

See the full list of holidays on the government website here.

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Comments (89)

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  1. watcher says:

    Wow. What a pissed off group of people angry over nothing. Something good happened in the late 1800’s. Some people want to commemorate that date, but no, you angry folk think that it isn’t worthy, or other dates are more worthy.

    Get a grip folks. Life is fleeting, and all too short. This is a good thing to celebrate. There are NO victims in this fight, other than those who have already paid and died.

    I see no problem with honouring a good thing happening in our Caymanian history.

  2. J .A. Roy Bodden says:

    The Marquess of Sligo,then Governor of Jamaica in 1835, upon visiting Grand Cayman to issue the Proclamation, was accompanied by Captain Pack and Lieutenant Hodgson who were in charge of twenty five men of the 84th Foot soldiers. It is my understanding that the men of the 2nd West India Regiment were black soldiers. These men were met with hostility and aggression from the white inhabitants of Grand Cayman.

    It is also a point of some historical significance that the actual proclamation was read ON May 3,1835 by Captain Pack and not by the Governor. The Governor however, immediately after the proclamation, gave an address in which he dedicated the first part to stating the obligations of the former owners. The second part of the address was directed to what he saw as the responsibilities of the newly freed slaves.

    On May 6th Captain Pack journeyed to St James in Pedro, Spotts, South Sound and Prospect where he read the Proclamation at each place.

    Reverend Thomas Sharpe, gives an interesting account of the celebrations which followed at Bodden Town, the slave capital of Grand Cayman. Reverend Sharpe was one of the speakers at the celebration,where accocording to his account “the procession was filled from one end of Bodden Town to the other…”

    As a proud descendant of an enslaved family during this era, my sentiments are that it is high time we confront ‘the elephant in the room”. We can begin by according Long Celia her place on the pantheon of National Heroes in these islands. And I say to my black brothers and sisters of the diaspora ” This is our land, our history, our heritage ,our culture . LET US NOT SURRENDER IT TO ANY ALIEN”.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Many of Caymans Slave Owning families were given 19,000 pounds in compensation for their slaves being taken away. That is equivalent to receiving almost 2 million pounds today when you consider the purchasing power of 19,000 Pounds back then.

    I wonder if any of those former slave owner (families), now rich Cayman merchant (families) are willing to give back the equivalent of 2 Million tha they used to become business owners and very wealthy while the poor freed slaves were left to survive with no land and no cash and became the poor black families of today… Maybe there needs to be an exchange of wealth to even things out.

  4. Mumbichi says:

    I have read all the comments. I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with this. Don’t we all love a holiday? This seems a genuinely proper holiday. We are far from the only ones who observe it. It is important, like all our holidays.

    Lighten up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The business gang who drives the fight against a living wage is against a holiday? Say it ain’t so!

  6. Lomart says:

    Weren’t there always two holidays in May? I thought 1st and 3rd Mondays. Discovery Day and Tree Planting Day??

  7. Anonymous says:

    … but could this holiday be after July when all the other holidays end?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Politicians currying favour with the grievance culture voting demographic.

    But this idea came from the previous Pact woke leadership.

    Also if you put public holidays close enough together you can string out a couple weeks off without dipping into your sick day entitlement.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ironic that those on minimum wage will have to work this day.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Decisions, decisions, what a tough life these politicians have🫡

  11. Anonymous says:

    Another BS Holiday

  12. Cul-Cha says:

    Unless your ancestors came here before 1834, no woke day off for you…

  13. Anonymous says:

    They just following Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. We soon be celebrating Jamaica’s Independence day.

    • Anonymous says:

      A simple Google search would hve shown its not only the Caribbean that celebrates Emancipation Day


    • Anonymous says:

      Where have you been ? Jam Independence is a week long celebration here.


      worried yet?

    • Anonymous says:

      Emancipation Day is not just in the Caribbean …


    • Anonymous says:

      Independence from prosperity…Jamaica fine example of give some people enough rope and they’ll shoot themselves in the foot.

      • Anonymous says:

        Racism watchdog says “woof, woof,woof!”

      • Anonymous says:

        they did manage to wreck their dollar. the rate of inflation out weighed the interest rate on a loan from years ago. Scotia lost money on that as the value paid back was less than value borrowed

    • Ait smhw says:

      But, Jamaica is not the only country that has emancipation day. Also, Jamaica use to govern the islands so, I don’t see an issue with following that. The only thing I think is right is to acknowledge that there were actual slaves here because everyone walks around acting like it’s a white country forgetting the dark skin children, leaving them to feel they don’t belong to the point where many I know are being bullied in school to go back where they come from because they are too dark. So, yes have a celebration for emancipation both physical and mental slavery. The fact is, there is no independence so, that cannot be put in as part of the constitution because the country is not independent. The majority of faded down shades have led to colorism and prejudice and I feel it for the parent with darker skin children because feeling that sense of not belonging is evident by some of the things they don’t want to get involved in as well as the segregation in schools in so pronounced it’s hard to miss. THANKS FOR THE EMANCIPATION DAY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, HOLIDAY OR NOT! It is about time and a big deal should be made of it and so many black culture and heritage happening should be well highlighted on that day, stop whiten out the country to the point of black extinction

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well I’m just grateful for another holiday chilling my bones 🏖️

  15. Anonymous says:

    None but ourselves can free up the herb.

  16. Anonymous says:

    No consultation with the business world – Chamber, Cayman Finance, etc.

  17. Anonymous says:

    There is a plaque at Pedro’s that explains that Captain Anthony Pack, along with convincing armed troops of the 84th Regiment of Foot, were dispatched to the UK plantation settlements of the Caribbean, and that 5th May 1835 to the Cayman Islands, with orders to enforce the Abolition of Slavery Act, which went into force on 1st August 1833, a year and a half earlier. Cayman might not want to be too proud that it took forces from the UK army to enforce the law. It sounds familiar though.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder what is CIG’s basis in choosing to celebrate Emancipation Day in May? Ignorance perhaps?

      Emancipation Day should be celebrated in August.

      Another example of CIG not getting ANYTHING right the first time!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh this comment again about how we should be ashamed and Captain Anthony Pack.

      What part of ‘it was the 1830s and it was harder for states to enforce their laws, particularly if they had taken to claiming tiny parts of the world with very small populations’ don’t you get.

      Considering we governed ourselves until around 1900 I am very proud of anything and everything we did during that time.

      Captain Anthony Pack and his convincing armed troops of the 84th Regiment of Foot. Truly, a Nelson among the British Armed Forces throughout the ages. Tamer of the wild, feckless, ungrateful and disobedient Caymanians, who failed to end the practice of slavery fast enough when their economy and society was structured around it, because the UK had been setting up dozens of countries that way for centuries.

      That plaque should remain forever as testament to the fact that we didn’t take orders kindly, we never have and never will.

      • Anonymous says:

        So you think the end of slavery was a bad thing? Fact that our “economy”- read the the interests of the merchant class – was more important than the human misery of enslaved people. Not to worry – we have simply replaced it with imported poverty labour.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Except for those trying to survive on minimum wage. They’ll have to work a double.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I welcome a new public holiday, considering how low our minimum annual leave of 10 days is in Cayman compared to a long list of other countries in which it falls between 20-30 days.

    It would be great if we could shake off this US style work culture where many people’s whole lives and identity are centered around their jobs and where many salaried workers respond with barely any resistance to unpaid overtime.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Who pays for this? This is ridiculous. Did the government consult the business community? Should just make the whole week a holiday since they’re so generous with other people’s money.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry but the business community isn’t the *only* stakeholder group that is allowed to influence public policy.

      If you don’t like another public holiday, I’m sure we can all get the government looking an extra mandatory 5 days vacation as a starter.

      You know, as a starting point to catch us up to the employee welfare and labour laws and practices of the rest of the modern world.

    • Anonymous says:

      The merchant class has more than enough influence. Enjoy the holiday.

  21. Really... says:

    Ridiculous. Does this Government have a complete disregard for the many businesses that are still struggling to recover from the lockdown during covid?


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