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 many other cultures from Chinese to Lebanese. It is a unique blend that emerged through the country is not very aloud. In Belizean folklore, we find the legends of La Llorona, [1] Cadejo, [2] the Tata Duende, [3] and X'tabai. [4]

Contents

The idea of the mystical healing and Obeah is prominent in Belizean legend, and 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

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."

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.

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.

Socializing

With a population of nearly 400,000 people, [5] Belize has more than 10 distinct languages that each hold their own cultural implications. All of these languages create a hierarchy with English at the top and Spanish at the bottom. Belize is the only Central American country with English as its national language, [6] and this is because of the country's rich history of British imperialism. As a result, the English language along with Western culture has left a lasting imprint on Belize's culture. [7]

Nationwide, Belizeans regard American and British English as the highest form of communication. British and American visitors, especially higher ranking officials, are celebrated and treated with honors. In some cases, being able to speak "proper" English as well as being informed on European and American high culture allows for individuals in Belizean society to progress their careers and gain an elevated social status. [7]

Although English is regarded as the preferred form of political and social interaction, a more common vernacular called English Creole is spoken throughout Belize. [7] To speak English Creole means, to those living in Belize, that you are a "born-Belizean." This automatically places you above "outsiders" particularly those of Spanish speaking descent. Though Spanish speakers make up a majority of rural Belizeans, English Creole speakers typically regard the Spanish as having the same form of culture as Guatemalans and Mexicans. The tension between English Creole speakers and Spanish speakers derives from immigrants from other Central American countries as well as the nation's history of Spanish-British conflicts. [6]

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. 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. Prods, Filaos. "La Llorona". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  2. Prods, Filaos. "Cadejo". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  3. Prods, Filaos. "Tata Duende". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  4. Prods, Filaos. "Xtabay". www.sunofbelize.com. Retrieved 2016-07-10.
  5. "Population, total | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  6. 1 2 Bonner, Donna M. (January 2001). "Garifuna children's language shame: Ethnic stereotypes, national affiliation, and transnational immigration as factors in language choice in southern Belize". Language in Society. 30 (1): 81–96. doi:10.1017/S004740450100104X. ISSN   0047-4045.
  7. 1 2 3 Conference 1, Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth; Conference, Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth (1995). Worlds Apart: Modernity Through the Prism of the Local. Psychology Press. ISBN   9780415107891.

Related Research Articles

Belize Country on the Caribbean coast of Central America

Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country located on the north eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 408,487 (2019). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

Island Caribs Group of people who live in Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles islands

Island Caribs, also known as the Kalinago or simply Caribs, are an indigenous people of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. They have descended from the Mainland Caribs (Kalina) of South America. The people spoke a carib pidgin language of Karina origins.

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.

Dangriga Town in Stann Creek, Belize

Dangriga, formerly known as Stann Creek Town, is a town in southern Belize, located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of the North Stann Creek River. It is the capital of Belize's Stann Creek District. Dangriga is served by the Dangriga Airport. Commonly known as the "culture capital of Belize" due to its influence on punta music and other forms of Garifuna culture, Dangriga is the largest settlement in southern Belize.

Toledo District District of Belize

Toledo District is the southernmost district in Belize, and Punta Gorda is the District capital. It is the least developed region in the country, and it features some of the most pristine rainforests, extensive cave networks, coastal lowland plains, and offshore cays. Toledo is home to a wide range of cultures: Mopan and Kekchi Maya, Creole, the Garifuna, East Indians, Mennonites, Mestizos, and descendants of US Confederate settlers.

The music of Belize has a mix of Creole, Mestizo, Garìfuna, Mayan and European influences.

The Garifuna are a mixed African and indigenous people originally from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent who speak the Garifuna dialect of the Arawakan language.

Punta rock or Belizean punta is a form of the traditional punta rhythm of the Garifuna people of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. Although most artist and bands are exclusively Garifuna, songs are usually in Kriol or Garifuna and rarely in Spanish, or English.

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

Punta is a dance originated by the Garifunas in all of the Central American coast of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in the late 18th century.

Andy Palacio Belizean musician

Andy Vivian Palacio was a Belizean Punta musician and government official. He was also a leading activist for the Garifuna people and their culture.

According to the 2010 census, the major languages spoken in Belize include English, Spanish and Kriol, all three spoken by more than 40% of the population. Mayan languages are also spoken in certain areas.

Mískito Coast Creole or Nicaragua Creole English is an English-based creole language spoken in coastal Nicaraguan region of Mosquito Coast on the Caribbean Sea; its approximately 30,000 speakers are spread over a number of small villages. The region is today administratively separated into two autonomous regions: North Caribbean Coast and South Caribbean Coast. Mosquito is the nickname that is given to the region and earlier residents by early Europeans who visited and settled in the area. The term "Miskito" is now more commonly used to refer to both the people and the language.

Paul Nabor, born Alfonso Palacio, was a Garifuna singer and musician from Punta Gorda, Belize. He is often credited with popularizing paranda, a style of traditional Garifuna music, and is considered to have been one of the most talented musicians of the genre.

Belize Kriol is an English-based creole language closely related to Miskito Coastal Creole, Jamaican Patois, San Andrés-Providencia Creole, Bocas del Toro Creole, Colón Creole, Rio Abajo Creole, and Limón Coastal Creole.

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 Caribbean people, Mestizos, Pardos, Europeans, Garifunas, Mayans, and Chinese and Indians who were brought to Belize as indentured laborers. These varied peoples have all mixed to create this ethnic group.

Belizeans people associated with the country of Belize

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.

The Chinese community in Belize consists of descendants of Chinese immigrants who were brought to British Honduras as indentured laborers as well as recent immigrants from China and Taiwan.