Easter Celebrations in Belize
Easter celebrations or Pasch (Pascha) for many begins at noon on Thursday when government offices and many other businesses close for preparations and remain closed until Tuesday morning. While this is a Holy Holiday that celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, this is also a weekend when many Belizeans will travel from their home area to other areas of the country to visit family, or to take part in the many different events and activities held throughout the country.
While Belize has many festivals and holidays that celebrate it’s many cultures, and that recognize the individuals that have made significant contributions to the history of Belize. No celebration is greater than Easter Celebrations.
Easter Celebrations and Superstitions on Good Friday
Good Friday is a traditional Holy day where many still predominantly catholic Belizeans will meet at the local church to participate in the towns Stations of the Cross Procession. This procession with it’s 14 stops for prayers and hymns represents the final journey of Jesus to his ultimate death on earth and crucifixion.
This day is also filled with superstitions rooted in Belize’s folklore and legends. For example it said that if you swim in the rivers on Good Friday you will turn into a mermaid, it is also said that if you cut down a Physic Nut tree, blood will run from the tree. Another legend is that if you let your children climb in trees on this day they will turn into monkeys. As Good Friday is a somber day to to abstain from work and pleasurable activities, and to observe the death of Christ, it is believed that these legends were started to keep the kids from playing and the men from working.
Holy Saturday is a day when many activities are scheduled all across the country. The largest is The Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. The now international bicycle race starts in the early morning in Belize City with participants pedaling across the country to San Ignacio and then returning to finish in Belize City at around noon. This is also the day for picnics and BBQ’s with family and friends. I recall last year on Holy Saturday morning returning home from our walk on the beach to find our landlords set up in our yard listening to the bicycle race on the radio and preparing the grill. Two grills made from recycled beer kegs were filled with chicken, beef ribs, pork, and even a taste of lobster and of course served with traditional rice & beans and potato salad.
Easter Sunday marks the end of lent and is a day when most Catholics will attend mass and celebrate the resurrection of Christ. After mass has been held, like many other cultures, Belizeans like their chocolate too, this is the day that the children (and many adults I’m sure) wait to get their candy and chocolate fix in Easter egg hunts and other like activities.
Easter Monday marks the end of the Easter celebrations and is the day that those that have not already done so, return to their home areas. There are still events enjoyed on this day, the most notable being the afternoon running of the annual Horse Race held in Burrel Boom at the Castleton Race Track.