Belize is a diverse destination with a wealth of cultural influence and the Christmas holiday is a perfect time to explore! Having a little over 365,000 in population (within 8,867 square miles of pristine environment) you’ll discover the destination’s true vibrancy: its people.
There’s a celebration for almost every season in Belize and Christmas time is no exception!
The Creole culture…
Now done mostly only in Gales Point Manatee, Belize District, the Creole “Bram and Brokdong” and “Sambai” are two such examples of Belize Creole Christmas traditions.
“Bramming” is the Creole cultural form of dancing done in collaboration with the “Brokdong” music which entails the towns’ participation and is dependent on a lively music created with numerous musical instruments. These musical range from a fork and grater, a shaker (maraca), gombay (two-sided) drum, harmonica ("mouth organ") and an accordion to list a few. It starts from one end of the town/village with residents offering the dancing crowd food, drinks in large amounts, throughout this feast the dancing continues and the celebration mood is enjoyed by ALL.
This usually ends with the crowd extremely full from the numerous food and drinks consumed! It offers the traditional Belize Christmas items: black & white cake, sodas, local wines, locally made rum, rice and beans, ham and more!
“Sambai” the fertility dance has African roots. Done during Christmas, the Creole culture also involves the participation of a man and a woman in a courtship. The music is created particularly with the traditional African fertility musical instrument Goombay (gumbeh). This is a celebration dance also which involves older members of the community but no children. The Fertility aspect of this coincides with both the full moon and the harvesting of crops.
The Garifuna culture…
This lively culture is rich in celebrations and during the Christmas season the “Cha-Ri-Ka-Na-Ri” (Two-Foot-Cow) dance is a prime example of this!
The CHARIKANARI “Two Foot Cow” is a fun dance involving a man dressed in a cow-shaped face with a larger-than-life rare end added on to emphasize the dancing movements. It is a mocking dance of the past slave owners’ attire and mannerisms as they dance throughout the streets. The movements follow a story format where the cow first enters the scene declaring his presence followed by dancing. He periodically intimidates the audience by aggressively approaching them then retreating back into dance. This group affair features the traditional drumming of the Garifuna and can be seen throughout the country. If you see a group of dancers call upon them to perform for you; you can then offer water or other nourishments as they continue their journey.
Cultures that harmonize…
This little part of the world packs a BIG cultural contribution which includes the ancient Maya descendants, the Garifuna settlers, the Creole “Kriol” and the unique Mestizo, Mennonite, East Indian and Chinese communities. It is a peaceful blend which not only contributes to each’s traditions, but celebrates and absorbs it too!
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