Mid November starts the high season in Belize and some tourists are eager to celebrate Thanksgiving, forgetting for a moment that it is not a Belizean holiday. However, Belizeans enjoy making people happy and plenty of restaurants feature special menus celebrating the occasion. Because most of the restaurants have only a handful of tables, Thanksgiving is celebrated over several days to accommodate those wanting to try some turkey and pumpkin pie in Belize.
Local restaurants will sometimes have stew turkey, in addition to stew chicken, the national dish of Belize. But don’t expect mashed potatoes and dressing to necessarily be served with it. Rice and beans with slaw is the universal side item in Belize and many times they stick with that instead of going with the traditional sides.
But really, I find eating lobster or fish on Thanksgiving is fun and prefer it to the over-priced resort restaurants trying to capitalize on yet another holiday. It’s also a strain on many restaurants with all the people and new menus and reservations are strongly encouraged for most restaurants featuring “Thanksgiving menus.”
If you’re staying in a vacation home, you may consider hiring a local to cook for you and your family if you want to avoid the crowds. Either way, may I suggest that if you are in Belize for “Thanksgiving” you start a new tradition of celebrating it as a local restaurant or chef with the foods of Belize? And who doesn’t like lobster?
Celebrating the Christmas season starts early because Belizeans do not have Thanksgiving to “wait” before starting getting in the spirit of Christmas. Our neighbor has been known to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” in early fall. And watch it again and again, until the New Year. He would tell you he is very into Christmas, but that probably doesn’t mean what you think it does.
Belizeans do not spend much time worrying about shopping and exchanging gifts or decorating elaborately. Preparing for the Christmas season here means a deep cleaning of the home and yard. It’s not unusual for the house to get a fresh coat of paint. Children are tasked with more chores than usual. A string of lights or a few ornaments hung are typical, while many don’t bother at all. Our neighbor splurges on apples and grapes for his children and they jump up and down in delight at the imported fruits.
Readying for visitors, the entire family pitches in preparing for the trickling in of visitors throughout the extended Christmas season. Families swell in size as relatives that live out of the country return home. Many bring hams and turkeys with them in case the stores run out. Employers pass out hams to their teams and the radio station has ham giveaways. While there is always chicken around, many families prefer to consume ham and fish for their Christmas suppers and get-togethers. An extra case of stout is ordered and the debates of the best rum popo are held.
On Christmas Eve, many make their way to Church late in the evening, and get out at midnight bringing in Christmas. The celebration continues until the sun comes up.
This post was written for RideBZE.com by Leslie Sorrell, and posted with her permission.
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