The month of March proves to be quite a busy time for Belize, with one of the main holidays being the celebrated Baron Bliss Day.
Every 9th of March, Belizeans across the country honor Belize’s largest financial benefactor, Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, JP. The holiday has recently been changed to National Heroes and Benefactors Day, but most locals still call it by the original name. There’s something to be said about Belize having so many important heroes to honor that a whole holiday is named after them!
You might be familiar with the story of Baron Bliss gifting the value of over a million dollars to Belize on March 9, 1926, when he passed away. However, not many people know details about this generous philanthropist. Here are five facts about the eccentric Baron Bliss:
- He never touched land in Belize. Baron Bliss was moored to the sea, and an angler at heart, preferred to spend his days fishing. When he arrived in Belize in 1926, Bliss simply dropped anchor and fished while on his boat. Despite not setting foot in the country, he befriended local fishermen and, apparently fond of them, decided to leave the fortune to the entire country.
- Fished from a wheelchair. When he was 42, Bliss acquired polio which rendered him wheelchair-bound due to the paralysis. This did not deter Bliss as he made his boat, “Sea King II,” specially equipped so he could still fish while in Belize.
- Baron Bliss isn’t his birth name. Baron is a title, and his last name was initially Barretts. He changed his last name when he acquired the title Bliss, which was passed down to him from his lineal descent of John Moore in the then-kingdom of Portugal.
- Explained details of his burial. Before Baron Bliss died, he stipulated in his will thorough details of how he was to be commemorated. From the specific material used for his tomb to the iron railing that was to be erected around said tomb, Bliss made sure his demands were clear.
- Will had meticulous dos and don’ts. In his will, Bliss stipulated that the fund could only be used for specific things, such as only the interest could be spent and only agricultural and/or vocational schools could be built with the money.
Today, many monuments have been reared in honor of him. One of them include the Baron Bliss Lighthouse, which faces the harbor where he was staying while in Belize.
For more information on the holidays – and heroes – in Belize, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.