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Culture in Belize: Celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day

By Belize Hotel Association Staff 3/26/2019 2 minutes

The Garifuna Culture in Belize

The Garifuna culture is rich and vibrant. Their music, food and dancing, are rooted in strong traditional practices which form an integral part of their day to day life. On your next visit to Belize, immerse yourself in our culture. Be sure to dance some punta, beat some drums and taste some delicious hudut. We are sure you will have a most memorable time!

What is Garifuna Settlement Day?

Garifuna Settlement Day is undoubtedly one of the most renowned and colorful festivities in Belize. It celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Garifuna people. The entire country joins in this exciting annual celebration that is marked by drumming beats, dancing, food, and the colorful traditional wear of our Garifuna People.

When is Garifuna Settlement Day?

Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated on November 19 every year in Belize. It is a public and bank holiday where most of the population flock to southern Belize to witness the reenactment of the arrival of the Garifuna in Belize.

What happens on Garifuna Settlement Day?

Although, all of Belize celebrates this national holiday, the biggest festivities are held in Southern Belize namely in Dangriga, Hopkins, Seine Bight and Punta Gorda.
The yurumein is the reenactment of the arrival of the Garifuna people to Belize more than two hundred years ago. It is the highlight of the day’s activities – and you must start the day early to be a part of this spectacular event. The entire community lines the beach in anticipation of the arrival of the "first Garinagu to Belize." All dressed in traditional clothing and paddling to the shore in typical canoes, they are welcomed by drums, singing and dancing. The celebration continues with a long and captivating parade and lots of traditional food like hudut, darasa and cassava bread.

Garifuna Settlement Day, Belize - Photo Cred: iTravel Belize
Garifuna Settlement Day, Belize - Photo Cred: iTravel Belize

Garifuna food you must try in Belize:

  • Hudut: a soup with the main ingredients being fish, plantains and coconut milk seasoned with local spices. It is served with mashed plantains.
  • Cassava bread: the Garifuna name for Cassava is Ereba. It is a flat bread that is hard in texture and rich in starch.
  • Tapou: a fish-based creamy soup with a variety of ingredients which includes cassava root, green and ripe plantains, lemon seasonings, ginger, basil and local spices.
  • Darasa:  green banana tamales that are a traditional Garifuna snack. Darasa is made by grating slightly green bananas and mixing with coconut milk, orange and lemon juice and seasonings. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled in water until solid.
  • Cassava Pudding: also known as plastic cake because of its rubbery texture, is a sweet-jelly dessert that includes grated cassava, coconut and evaporated milk, ginger, nutmeg, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs baked together.
  • Sahou: usually served as a thick and warm drink. It is made from Cassava and contains coconut milk, nutmeg and cinnamon.

How to get to Hopkins, Dangriga, Seine Bight and Punta Gorda?

If you would like to visit a Garifuna community in Belize, then you would most likely travel to southern Belize where most Garinagu families have settled. These communities would be in the towns and villages of Hopkins, Dangriga, Seine Bight and Punta Gorda, just to name a few.
To get to Hopkins, Dangriga, Seine Bight and Punta Gorda, you can travel by public transportation (bus), shuttle transfers, personal or rental vehicle or by flight via Tropic Air or Maya Island Air.

Garifuna Settlement Day, Belize - Photo Cred: iTravel Belize
Garifuna Settlement Day, Belize - Photo Cred: iTravel Belize

Belize Hotel Association Staff