Holidays in Belize Jankunu Dance

Your Guide to Spending the Holidays in Belize

December is one of our busiest seasons in Belize, and it’s easy to see why. With everyone scurrying to escape the cold – or the relatives – Belize becomes a great contender of where to spend the 2019 holidays.

If you’re thinking of using that much needed PTO in a tropical place where Christmas morning consists of waking up on a beach (or in a jungle), here’s your complete guide to welcoming the holidays in Belize.

Where to Go

Southern/Southeast Coast: There’s no shortage of holiday traditions anywhere you go in Belize, but there are some places you simply can’t miss when visiting in December, and the southeast coast on Christmas Day is one of them. Though this dance can be seen pretty much anywhere in the country during the holidays, people flock to the south to see the Garifuna people do the world-famous Wanaragua Dance (or “Jankunu/John Canoe” dance). The dancer dons a mask to resemble the “European slave master,” complete with shells tied to each knee, and an extravagant headpiece to do their performance.

The dance is said to make fun of the colonial slave masters, and is accompanied by the pounding of the drums with a fast-paced beat. The jerking movements and vibrating shells make for an elaborate dance that was passed down from generations, transporting you through history and leaving you in awe.

What to Do

Maya Deer Dance: While we may all know Rudolph the Reindeer, in Belize we have our own holiday deer-related tradition: the rare, historic Maya Deer Dance. Visit the southern village of San Antonio to see this traditional festival, where a ritualized dance mimics the hunting of a deer. The Maya dancers wear painted masks, and large headpieces, followed by scaling a greased pole.

This dance is said to show the relationship between the Mayas and their land, and witnessing such a dance is a rare sight and one that should not be missed.

What to Eat

Fruit Cake: If you Google “Belize Fruit Cake,” thousands of recipes pop up for this coveted dessert that basically defines holiday cuisine in Belize! As soon as Belizeans sense the end of November approaching, the purchasing of black fruit cake ingredients begins. It is a tradition to make large batches of the fruit cake to send to families (both in Belize and abroad.) Usually held in a small foiled pan, this cake does not taste like your typical cake, but instead has some sweetness with it coupled with a unique tart flavor. Often made with molasses, burnt sugar, and steeped in alcohol, the cake is topped with chewy fruits and optional pecans.   

Christmas Ham: Where Thanksgiving is all about turkey, Christmas in Belize is all about ham. Locals place their orders a month or so before Christmas Day, to make sure they have their key entrée for their holiday guests. Glazed with mustard, peppered with cloves and pineapple slices, a perfectly prepared Christmas ham is enough to make you spend your holidays in Belize.

Rumpopo: Often compared to eggnog, this drink is not exclusive to our Jewel, but a few Latin countries as well. However, do expect to have rumpopo at every dinner table once the holiday season in Belize begins. Belizean liquor is the what makes the rumpopo special to our country, making it a bit more potent than your typical eggnog.

Spending your holidays in Belize is the perfect way to get to know the country at its merriest. From the smorgasbord of dishes to try to the many traditional festivals occurring around the country, Belize in December should be on your Christmas Wishlist.

For more things to do in Belize, feel free to email us at or call us toll-free at 1-800-624-0686.

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