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Expat Exchange - Christmas in Belize
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Caye Caulker, Belize


Christmas in Belize

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: Learn how people celebrate Christmas and the New Year in Belize - traditions, food, church, gift exchange and more.

The holiday season in Belize offers a unique blend of festive traditions and tropical charm. For those experiencing their first Christmas and New Years in Belize, the celebrations are a vibrant mix of local culture and familiar holiday cheer.

Christmas and New Year's in Belize

In Belize, Christmas and New Year's are celebrated with a warmth that goes beyond the tropical climate. The festive season is a time for family, friends, and a lot of merry-making. Belizeans take pride in decorating their homes with bright lights and colorful ornaments. Christmas trees, often of the traditional pine or the local alternative, such as the Cahune palm, are adorned with decorations and stand as a central piece in many homes.

Local Celebrations and Traditions

Leading up to the holidays, towns and villages come alive with parades, pageants, and festive events. One of the most anticipated is the San Pedro Holiday Boat Parade, where boats are decked out in dazzling lights and sail along the coast for an aquatic display of holiday spirit. In the mainland towns, you'll find Christmas expos and markets where local artisans sell handmade gifts and decorations.

While Santa Claus may not be as prominent as in other countries, the concept of gift-giving is still very much alive. Belizeans exchange presents with loved ones, often focusing on practical and thoughtful items that reflect the needs and interests of the recipients. Handcrafted goods, local art, and even homemade treats are common gifts that carry a personal touch.

Festive Foods and Desserts

Food plays a central role in the Belizean Christmas. Traditional dishes such as rice and beans, stewed chicken, and tamales are often served during the holiday meals. For dessert, black fruitcake and rum popo, a Belizean version of eggnog, are holiday staples. On New Year's, families might also enjoy a special dinner that includes relleno negro (black dinner), a rich and flavorful chicken soup.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Christmas Eve in Belize is often a time for final preparations and anticipation. Many people attend Midnight Mass, known as "Misa de Gallo," to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Churches are filled with song and prayer, and the sense of community is palpable. After the service, families return home to enjoy a late-night feast and open gifts.

Christmas Day is typically a more relaxed affair, with families spending time together, enjoying the leftovers from the night before, and visiting neighbors and friends to exchange holiday greetings. The atmosphere is one of joy and relaxation, with the day often ending with a leisurely stroll on the beach or a casual gathering.

Where to Experience the Festivities

Some towns are particularly known for their holiday spirit. San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is famous for its vibrant decorations and events, while the capital city of Belmopan and the historic Belize City offer a more traditional experience with their Christmas tree lightings and caroling. Placencia, with its laid-back vibe, is perfect for those looking to celebrate in a more serene setting.

In conclusion, celebrating Christmas and New Year's in Belize is an experience that combines the familiar joys of the holiday season with the unique cultural flavors of this Central American gem. Whether you're attending a festive parade, savoring the local cuisine, or simply enjoying the company of new friends and neighbors, the holidays in Belize are sure to create lasting memories for expats and digital nomads alike.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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Caye Caulker, Belize

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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