Culture of Belize

Last updated
The Altun Ha archaeological site in Belize, a remnant of Mayan culture. Altun Ha Belize.jpg
The Altun Ha archaeological site in Belize, a remnant of Mayan culture.

The Belizean culture is a mix of influences and people from Kriol, Maya, East Indian, Garinagu (also known as Garifuna), Mestizo (a mixture of Spanish and Native Americans), Mennonites who are of German descent, with a blend of many other cultures from Chinese to Lebanese. It is a unique blend that emerged through the country's long and occasionally violent history. [1]

Belizean Creoles, also known as Kriols, are Creole descendants of Black Africans, enslaved and brought to Belize by English and Scottish log cutters, who were known as the Baymen. Over the years they have also intermarried with Miskito from Nicaragua, Jamaicans and other West Indians, Mestizos and East Indians, who were brought to Belize as indentured laborers. These varied peoples have all mixed to create this ethnic group.

Maya peoples People of southern Mexico and northern Central America

The Maya peoples are a large group of Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. They inhabit southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region that share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term embraces many distinct populations, societies, and ethnic groups that each have their own particular traditions, cultures, and historical identity.

Mestizo race

Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies. Nowadays though, particularly in Spanish America, mestizo has become more of a cultural term, with culturally mainstream Latin Americans regarded or termed as mestizos regardless of their actual ancestry and with the term Indian being reserved exclusively for people who have maintained a separate indigenous ethnic identity, language, tribal affiliation, etc. Consequently, today, the vast majority of Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are regarded as mestizos.

Contents

Courtesy is important to most Belizeans. It is not uncommon for Belizeans to greet each other on the street even if they have never seen each other before, or for acquaintances to spend minutes at a time chatting, oblivious to what is happening around them. Another aspect of the culture is the idea of the mystical healing and Obeah. However, there is still talk of evil shaman practices like putting "Obeah" on certain houses. This is known to be done by burying a bottle with the 'evil' under a tree close by the house.

Obeah is a system of spiritual and healing practices developed among enslaved West Africans in the West Indies. Obeah is difficult to define, as it is not a single, unified set of practices; the word "Obeah" was historically not often used to describe one's own practices. Some scholars, such as Diana Paton, have contended that what constitutes Obeah in Jamaica has been constructed by white society, particularly law enforcement. Accordingly, different Afro-Caribbean communities use their own terminology to describe the practice, such as "science", among the Jamaican Windward Maroons. Obeah is similar to other Afro-American religions such as Palo, Haitian Vodou, Santería, and Hoodoo in that it includes communication with ancestors and spirits and healing rituals. Nevertheless, it differs from religions like Vodou and Santeria in that there is no explicit canon of gods or deities that is worshipped, and the practice is generally an individual action rather than part of a collective ceremony or offering. It differs from Myal in that Myal focuses more on the connection of humans and spirits. By some early colonial authorities they differed in that Obeah was viewed as nefarious while Myal was a more positive influence.

Shamanism Spiritual practice

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with what they believe to be a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.

Folklore

In Belizean folklore, we find the legends of La Llorona, [2] Cadejo, [3] the Tata Duende, [4] and X'tabai. [5]

Marriage and family

Belizean marriages are commonly celebrated with church weddings and colorful receptions featuring food, drink and dance. An increasing number of Belizean families are headed by single parents, especially mothers. Due to this trend, many of the present-day youths decline to pursue marriage and get involved in common law relationships with their partners. It is not common to encounter youths living with their parents around the age of 20 or above.

As a consequence of this trend, the most common family structure in Belize is the single-parent family. Moreover, grandparents are frequently involved in raising children, with or without the help of one of the parents. Most Belizean families either own or rent some type of house, typically wooden or concrete, and built to withstand minor fires and floods. However, when the hurricane seasons come around, most people will evacuate.

Food and eating

A traditional Belizean dinner. Belize mealUploaded on August 4, 2007 by Jimmcclarty.jpg
A traditional Belizean dinner.

Belizeans of all ethnicities eat a wide variety of foods. Breakfast consists of bread, flour tortillas, journey (johnny in Creole) cakes, or fry jacks that are often homemade. It is eaten with various cheeses (Dutch cheese, band back cheese, craft cheese, etc.) refried beans, various forms of eggs or cereal (corn flakes, oatmeal) sweetened with condensed milk. Morning beverages include milk, coffee, tea, Milo, Ovaltine, Cocoa, orange juice (fresh or concentrated). Eating breakfast is called "drinking tea."

Tortilla type of bread

A tortilla ) is a type of thin, unleavened flatbread, typically made from corn or wheat. In Spanish, "tortilla" means "small torta", or "small cake". It was first made by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica before European contact. The Aztecs and other Nahuatl speakers call tortillas tlaxcalli.

Refried beans

Refried beans is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a different approach when making the dish. Refried beans are also popular in many other Latin American countries.

Midday meals vary, from lighter foods like beans and rice with or without coconut milk, tamales, panades, (fried maize (corn) shells with beans or fish) and meat pies, escabeche (onion soup), chilmole (black soup made with black recardo), stew chicken and garnaches (fried tortillas with beans, cheese, and cabbage sauce) to various constituted dinners featuring some type of rice and beans, meat and salad or coleslaw.

Bean common name for plant seeds of the Fabaceae

A bean is a seed of one of several genera of the flowering plant family Fabaceae, which are used for human or animal food.

Rice cereal grain and seed of Oryza sativa

Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize.

Coconut milk liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated pulp of a mature coconut. The opacity and rich taste of coconut milk are due to its high oil content, most of which is saturated fat. Coconut milk is a traditional food ingredient used in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Caribbean, and northern South America.

In the rural areas meals may be more simplified than in the cities. The Maya use recardo, corn or maize for most of their meals, and the Garifuna are fond of fish and other seafood, cassava (particularly made into hudut) and vegetables. Local fruits and certain vegetables are quite common. Mealtime is a communion for families and schools and some businesses close at midday for lunch, reopening later in the afternoon.

Maize Cereal grain

Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.

Cassava Species of plant

Manihot esculenta, commonly called cassava, manioc, yuca, macaxeira, mandioca, aipim and Brazilian arrowroot, is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Though it is often called yuca in Spanish and in the United States, it is not related to yucca, a shrub in the family Asparagaceae. Cassava, when dried to a powdery extract, is called tapioca; its fried, granular form is named garri.

Socializing

Belizeans are informal and friendly in greeting one another; it is considered rude not to greet even a slight acquaintance, the clerk or receptionist when entering a place of business. It is, however, considered impolite to greet by first names, (gial, and bwai are common and acceptable) unless one has already established a relationship of some depth (you have had one or more conversations together). A simple nod of the head or shouting is acceptable when passing someone on the street, and acquaintances might also be greeted with any number of introductory phrases as covered here:

Other acceptable greetings are handshakes, combinations of palms and fingers touching, thumbs locking and slaps on the back, or even a kiss on the cheek for someone to show great appreciation and trust. Formal situations call for use of titles and surnames, and children are expected to address their elders with Miss/Mister and answer “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir” when asked questions but often do not.

Since the late introduction of television in 1980, visiting with friends is not as common as it used to be. When such a visit does occur Belizeans generally take care to make even unexpected guests feel at home. However, arranged visits are more commonly practiced, arriving without previous notice to a friend’s home may be seen as impolite or dangerous.

Recreation and sports

The most popular sports are soccer and basketball, and there is enthusiastic support for league teams formed since the early 1990s. Other sports enjoyed in Belize include volleyball, track and field, cricket, jai-alai, boxing, cycling, and softball, which all have established associations. Catching on in recent years are triathlon, canoeing, chess, darts, billiards, martial arts, and even ice hockey (in the Western Cayo District among the Mennonite population). An international cross-country cycling race is held every Easter weekend. Belize has the world's second largest barrier reef and hundreds of small islands, called cayes, that are popular recreation areas for urban people, particularly during school vacations and Easter.

Music and art

People watch a parade in Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda, Belize Parade, May 2007.jpg
People watch a parade in Punta Gorda.

Punta is by the far most popular genre of Garifuna music and has become the most popular genre in all of Belize. It is distinctly Afro-Caribbean, and is sometimes said to be ready for international popularization like similarly-descended styles (reggae, calypso, merengue, etc.). Established stars include Andy Palacio, Herman "Chico" Ramos, "Mohobub" Flores, Adrian "The Doc" Martinez, and Lindsford "Supa G" Martinez. A slower, more melodic variant, known as Paranda, has been catching on recently behind the talents of Honduras' Aurelio Martinez and Paul Nabor of Punta Gorda; Nabor's signature track "Naguya Nei" is considered the informal popular anthem of the Garifuna nation.

Brukdown is a very popular modern style of Belizean music related to Calypso. It evolved out of the music and dance of loggers, especially a form called buru. Its greatest proponents include Wilfred Peters and Gerald "Lord" Rhaburn of Belize City and Leela Vernon of Punta Gorda.

Reggae, Dancehall, and Soca imported from Jamaica and the rest of the West Indies, and Rap, Hip-Hop, heavy metal and rock music from the United States, are also popular among the youth of Belize. Belize's recording industry turns out a few CDs each year; the majority of musical exposure occurs at monthly concerts featuring Belizean and international artists sharing the same card, or else DJ's mixing music at local nightclubs.

Drama and Acting have also become a part of the Belizean culture. Many plays have taken place at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts and the George Price Center for Peace and development. Several plays that have had a dramatic impact are "Tigga Dead" written by the Governor General. Also "Stop! Stop the Bus", directed by Beverly Swasey.

Media

See also

References and notes

  1. Peedle, Ian. Belize in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture.
  2. Prods, Filaos. "La Llorona". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  3. Prods, Filaos. "Cadejo". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  4. Prods, Filaos. "Tata Duende". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  5. Prods, Filaos. "Xtabay". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.

Related Research Articles

Mexican cuisine culinary traditions of Mexico

Mexican cuisine began about 9,000 years ago, when agricultural communities such as the Maya formed, domesticating maize, creating the standard process of corn nixtamalization, and establishing their foodways. Successive waves of other Mesoamerican groups brought with them their own cooking methods. These included the Olmec, Teotihuacanos, Toltec, Huastec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomi, Purépecha, Totonac, Mazatec, and Mazahua.

Tamale food

A tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. The wrapping can either be discarded prior to eating, or be used as a plate, the tamale eaten from within. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste, and both the filling and the cooking liquid may be seasoned.

Breakfast first meal eaten in the early morning

Breakfast is the first meal of a day. The word in English refers to breaking the fasting period of the prior night. There is a strong tendency for one or more "typical", or "traditional", breakfast menus to exist in most places, but the composition of this varies widely from place to place, and has varied over time, so that globally a very wide range of preparations and ingredients are now associated with breakfast.

Demographics of Belize

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Belize, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Corn tortilla Unleavened flatbread made from ground corn (maize)

In North America and Central America, a corn tortilla or just tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flatbread, made from powdered hominy. In Guatemala and Mexico, there are three colors of maize dough for making tortillas: white maize, yellow maize and blue maize.

Costa Rican cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine is known for being fairly mild, with high reliance on fresh fruits and vegetables. Rice and black beans are a staple of most traditional Costa Rican meals, often served three times a day. Costa Rican fare is nutritionally well rounded, and nearly always cooked from scratch from fresh ingredients. Due to the location of the country, tropical fruits and vegetables are readily available and included in the local cuisine.

The music of Belize has a mix of Creole, Mestizo, Garìfuna, and Mayan influences. After many centuries of Maya habitation, British colonizers arrived in the area in the 17th century. Belize was Britain's only colony in Spanish-dominated Central America until self-government in 1964 and gaining full Independence in 1981. Belize is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Far more influential than this presence, however, was the importation of African slaves.

The Garifuna are an indigenous people originally from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent who speak an eponymous Arawakan language.

Quesadilla Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla filled with cheese and then grilled

A quesadilla, or sometimes specifically a cheese quesadilla, is a Mexican dish, consisting of a tortilla that is filled primarily with cheese, and sometimes meats, beans, vegetables, and spices, and then cooked on a griddle. Traditionally, a corn tortilla is used, but it can also be made with a flour tortilla, particularly in northern Mexico and the United States.

Latin American cuisine broad culinary traditions

Latin American cuisine is the typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America. Latin America is a highly diverse area of land that holds various cuisines that vary from nation to nation. Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize-based dishes arepas, pupusas, tacos, tamales, tortillas and various salsas and other condiments. These spices are generally what give the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor; yet, each country of Latin America tends to use a different spice and those that share spices tend to use them at different quantities. Thus, this leads for a variety across the land. Sofrito, a culinary term that originally referred to a specific combination of sautéed or braised aromatics, exists in Latin American cuisine. It refers to a sauce of tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, garlic, onions and herbs.

Punta traditional style of music and dance performed by the Garifuna people

Punta is a dance originated in the Central American coast of Belize, El Salvador Honduras and Guatemala in the late 18th century with African beats.

Salvadoran cuisine

Salvadoran cuisine is a style of cooking derived from the nation of El Salvador. The traditional cuisine consists of food from Native American cuisine, indigenous Lenca, Pipil and European Spanish peoples. Many of the dishes are made with maize (corn).

New Mexican cuisine cuisine originating from New Mexico

New Mexican cuisine is the cuisine of the Southwestern US state of New Mexico, the region is primarily known for its fusion of Pueblo Native American with Hispano Spanish and Mexican cuisine originating in Nuevo México. This cuisine had adaptions and influences throughout its history, including early on from the nearby Apache, Navajo, and throughout New Spain and the Spanish Empire, also from French, Italian, Mediterranean, Portuguese cuisine, and European cafés, furthermore during the American territorial phase from cowboy chuckwagons and Western saloons, additionally after statehood from Route 66 American diners, fast food restaurants, and global cuisine. Even so, New Mexican cuisine developed in fairly isolated circumstances, which has allowed it to maintain its indigenous, Spanish, and Mexican identity, and is therefore not like any other Latin food originating in the contiguous United States.

Sope Mexican street food

A sope, also known as picadita is a traditional Mexican dish originating in the central and southern parts of Mexico, where it was sometimes first known as pellizcadas. It is an antojito, which at first sight looks like an unusually thick tortilla with vegetables and meat toppings. The base is made from a circle of fried masa with pinched sides. This is then topped with refried beans and crumbled cheese, lettuce, onions, red or green sauce, and sour cream. Sometimes other ingredients are also added to create different tastes and styles of sopes; they are roughly the size of a fist.

Mexican street food

Mexican street food, called antojitos, is prepared by street vendors and at small traditional markets in Mexico. Street foods include tacos, tamales, gorditas, quesadillas, empalmes, tostadas, chalupa, elote, tlayudas, cemita, pambazo, empanada, nachos, chilaquiles, fajita and tortas, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and soups such as menudo, pozole and pancita. Most are available in the morning and the evening, as mid-afternoon is the time for the main formal meal of the day.

Belizeans

Belizeans are people associated with the country of Belize through citizenship or descent. Belize is a multiethnic country with residents of African, Amerindian, European and Asian descent or any combination of those groups.

Belizean cuisine is an amalgamation of all ethnicities in the nation of Belize and their respectively wide variety of foods. Breakfast often consists of sides of bread, flour tortillas, or fry jacks that are often homemade and eaten with various cheeses. All are often accompanied with refried beans, cheeses, and various forms of eggs, etc. Inclusive is also cereal along with milk, coffee, or tea.

The Lebeha Drumming Center was established in 2002 by Jabbar Lambey and Dorothy Pettersen, in Hopkins, Belize. Hopkins is a small coastal Garifuna community in the Stann Creek District of southern Belize. The center exists with the goals of keeping Garifuna music alive, passing traditional music along to young people in the community, and sharing music with visitors to Hopkins. The center’s focus is on traditional percussion music, though guitars have been donated and are also played.

Benin cuisine

Beninese cuisine is known in Africa for its exotic ingredients and flavorful dishes. Beninese cuisine involves lots of fresh meals served with a variety of sauces. Meat is usually quite expensive, and meals are generally light on meat and generous on vegetable fat.