By Naturalight Productions, Ltd.
NB: Remember to click on the links in the article to see all the images.
The Easter weekend is a "real" Belizean holiday for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the spectacular weather and riot of pinks, reds, oranges, lilacs and yellows as the countryside blooms. With over 75 percent of Belize's population Christian, the origin of the four day holiday weekend has its roots in Christianity. Each day is referred to separately by its own title - Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday - each with its own traditions and events.
The Easter weekend is a favorite for visiting Belizean families from abroad as local families are off work or out of school and can spend time together. With temperatures in the upper 80's, many Belizeans flock to the beaches and offshore cayes for the weekend. Plans and travel reservations are made months ahead of time. Did I mention that this was a four day holiday weekend? Much to the chagrin of many employers who are unable to close their businesses over the holiday weekend, even the rates of holiday pay are different on this weekend with working employees due double time on Friday and Monday! Actually it's really a four and a half day holiday weekend as most people try to leave work at midday on Thursday so that they can get where they are going for the weekend. Good Friday is supposed to be a quiet day with minimal traveling, and countrywide no liquor is allowed to be sold until 6:00 p.m.
When we were growing up we were told that if you swam on Good Friday you would turn into a fish; if you broke an egg and left it out in the sun you could see Jesus' image in the yolk and if you chopped a coconut tree with a machete, blood would seep out. In reality, you are much more likely to see quiet queues of worshippers following the Stations of the Cross or to pass by roadside altars covered with flowers in remembrance of Jesus' death at 3:00 p.m. This year with family visiting from England we took the time to explore Belize. Against the stringent advice of a fasting Roman Catholic great aunt, we set off by road to inspect the miles of new hotel and home developments on the Placencia peninsula and for a quiet picnic on the beach. After a tasty beach barbecue, our family group of nine opted for a snooze in the shade and universal teenage technology followed by a sailing lesson.
Holy Saturday is best known for the Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic - a 140 mile bike race starting in Belize City, traveling west to San Ignacio where the riders turn around and ride back to Belize City with a two lap finish around the track at the Marion Jones Stadium. Cycling is big in Belize and this is the country's premier cycling event - a tradition started in 1928 and today attracting a host of international riders. With over 120 riders this year, the winner was a long time young contender, Shane Vasquez, a Belizean whom we have watched for several years. With the afterglow of an exciting adventure, it only seemed fitting to participate in the midnight Easter vigil to herald in Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday brought the ubiquitous "Easter bunny droppings." Since we'd been to the Easter vigil the night before we could spend the day quietly working on a 12 year old's shell art project, more socializing and a tasty family lunch.
Easter Monday is always the day to pack up and trek back home in preparation for the Tuesday workday. This Easter Monday was no different. What with calming children who have gotten used to the freedom of the outdoors, tearful goodbyes, long journeys, and loads of laundry maybe we'll use part of the workday on Tuesday to get back into this work "thing." After all, the children are out of school for the remainder of the week, and the weather is still magnificent...
Images Courtesy of:
Tony Rath Photography