Monday, September 19, 2011

September Celebrations

In Belize, most of the month of September is made up of national celebrations and public holidays.

For school children, September is particularly fun because after the first week of school, schools, banks, and many offices close for the Battle of St. George's Caye Day which takes place on Sept. 10th in commemoration of a great battle in which we, a tiny colony of British Baymen, beat the Spanish. School children in uniforms proudly march. Important people give speeches and a few beauty contests are held.

Did I mention that September is also a great month for hurricanes and rain as well as parades and business closures? With one eye on the weather, people plan for the most important day of the September celebrations.

Our Independence Day is on the 21st of September. This year it will be 30 years since we officially became Belize and not British Honduras. Schools close. Banks close. Businesses close. And they close not just for one day. They close one day prior to the holiday for preparations; they close for the celebrations; and they close for at least one day of recovery.

There are speeches. There is music. The streets are decorated. The winners of the beauty contests adorn fantastic floats. They are joined in parading up and down every street in Belize by people dressed in tropical feather boas dancing tirelessly and energetically to such loud music a person's heart starts to beat in rhythm. Most of the parades take part in the middle of the day and it’s a miracle most every marcher survives the heat; but, these are celebrations and fluids are provided – sometimes by nature.

It almost always rains on one of the parades but that doesn't matter. Belizeans celebrate. And besides, everything is closed.