Holidays Celebrated in Belize
Belizeans take their holidays very seriously and they know how to mark the special occasions with a good celebration. On many important holidays like Christmas and Holy Friday, the whole country practically shuts down with reduced transportation services, closed government offices, banks, grocery stories and schools.
The following is a list of the national holidays celebrated in Belize and why they are so special.
New Year’s Day – January 1st
Similar to the U.S., New Year’s Day is a traditional holiday that is celebrated in Belize. To give time for people to recover from the previous night’s celebrations, everything is usually closed.
Baron Bliss Day – March 9th
Baron Bliss Day (National Heroes and Benefactors Day) is a celebration honoring an eccentric businessman who came to Belize to enjoy fishing and sailing. After he perished, he left his fortune to help in the construction of schools, libraries and other important institutions. The people of Belize honor his memory with a ceremony and other festivities.
Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Holy Saturday – Easter Sunday – Easter Monday
Easter is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in Belize. At the midday hour of Holy Thursday, banks and government offices shut down in preparation for the days ahead. Good Friday is a solemn day filled with religious processions and family time. Since Belizeans are crazy about cycling, the yearly Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycle Race is a popular venue with fairs and dances to follow. Easter Sunday is celebrated with mass and family get-togethers. Although some celebrations continue, the week of festivities begin to wind down on Easter Monday.
Labor Day – May 1st
Labor Day is a well-deserved holiday that centers around the working people. Although the day is similar to Labor Day in the U.S., it commemorates in May instead of September. The actions of activists such as Antonio Soberanis and Samuel Haynes helped the citizens of Belize fight for fair wages. Celebrations typically include a live formal address given by the minister of labor and activities such as family gatherings and picnics.
Commonwealth Day – May 24th
Started as a British holiday to observe the queen’s birthday, Commonwealth Day now celebrates the culture and people of Belize. Activities include youth activities, horse races and events recognizing the culture of Belize.
St. George’s Caye Day – September 10th
Marking the day when British settlers conquered the Spanish navy in 1798, this holiday is a great time for Belize to vacation and party.
Independence Day – September 21st
Independence Day celebrates the day the country gained its freedom from Great Britain. Events to mark the celebration include flag raising, music, dancing, carnivals and an array of Belizean food.
Columbus Day – October 12th
Columbus Day is similar to the U.S. and observes Columbus discovering the new world in 1492.
Garifuna Settlement Day – November 19th
This special day celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna into Belize. The group originally hailed from St. Vincent Island. Their ancestors were escaped slaves who married native Carib Indians. They were then forced by the British to relocate. The community celebrates with dancing, live re-enactments and parades.
Christmas Day – December 25th
The Christmas holiday is equally important to the residents of Belize. From tree lighting and Christmas mass to holiday dinners and dancing, it’s a magical time of year for the community.
Boxing Day – December 26th
Boxing Day is a traditional British celebration that follows the Christmas holiday. In addition to boxing up presents, revelers enjoy music, parades and dancing.