Belizean holidays- What is Garifuna Settlement Day?

Belize has many holidays, some which are familiar, like Christmas and Easter, and others that are unique to the country.  Each year in November the focus turns fully to culture, history and celebration.

The black, white and yellow colors of the Garifuna flag can be seen fluttering everywhere and surely there will be drum rhythms to be heard.  Garifuna Settlement Day is a public and bank holiday held each November 19th in Belize.  The day celebrates the arrival of the Garinagu to Belize in 1832, after escaping slavery in St. Vincent.

Belize’s cultural history is fascinating in its diversity and in how much of the original traditions are still well and alive in the people today.  A strong example of this is in the Garinagu, a people proud of their rich culture.  The larger coastal towns in the south begin the party the day before, which goes all night.  Sunrise on the 19th brings the Yuremei, or “landing,” reenacting the arrival of the people by boat.  Villagers line the shoreline in traditional dress, drumming and singing in the Garifuna language.  A procession then leads to church for a service.  Parades, drumming, singing, dance and delicious food continue throughout the day.

Leading up to Garifuna Settlement Day, school children throughout Belize celebrate Cultural Awareness Week with cultural dress, foods, music and dancing from all of the cultures of Belize.  Communities host cultural events and everywhere you will see Garifuna flags and colors.  San Pedro joins in the fun and celebration with events beginning at 8pm on 18th November, in coordination with the National Garifuna Council and the San Pedro Town Council and Cultural Committee.

From all of us at Sandy Point Resorts, Happy Garifuna Settlement Day!