No place loves September as much as Belize does and to prove it they have not one, but three celebrations taking place during the month! Party on, indeed.
Being a fusion of many different cultures ranging from the Maya, Creole, Mestizo, Chinese, East Indian and Mennonites, there are a wide range of traditions and beliefs to draw from. Depending on where you are in Belize you could have a very different experience than if you went to a neighbouring area. The result is a fascinating mix of practices that makes for a very rich culture that has to be seen to be believed.
This year Belize celebrates its 31st anniversary of independence from Britain, becoming its own country in 1981 and was known as British Honduras until 1973. Not an overly large country, what Belize lacks in size it makes up for in spirit and tradition – and sweet holidays in September!
First up on September 8th is the Carnival and Jouvert Parade. This celebration starts early in the morning and has people painting each other with chocolate and other things edible. Delicious! Then people basically just dance and have a good time for about an hour, enjoying being a part of this joyous celebration with their fellow countrymen. Later on, around mid afternoon, the carnival bands take to the streets and compete for the distinction of being the best carnival band of the year, playing Soca, reggae and other Caribbean music for the people to enjoy. An excellent way to kick off the month’s festivities!
Next, on September 10th, is the celebration of the Battle of St. George’s Caye Day and is the oldest celebration of the three. This commemorates the repulsion of Spanish invaders by the British settlers and Baymen, culminating on September 10th 1798 and marked the final time the Spanish tried to take over Belize. It wasn’t until 100 years later that it was marked as a holiday in Belize but since then it has become very important to the heritage of the people and is observed today as a reminder of their past and strength.
Finally, on September 21st, Belize has its independence day, known as the Anniversary of Independence. While technically the end of the month long celebrations, in truth the celebrating goes on beyond this because how can three days be enough? This is a time for much national pride and sees many small parties and large ones take place involving family, friends and communities as wholes. Count yourself lucky if you get to take part in these festivities!
This September, consider a trip to Belize if for nothing else than to see a fairly young country celebrate what it is to be an independent nation. While it has it’s difficulties ahead of it, Belize is full of hope for the future, having become a top tourist destination for many reasons, the chief of which being its rich past and warm, welcoming people.