Thanksgiving in the Banana Republic of Belize

I have been asked if Thanksgiving (Canadian or American) is celebrated in Belize. Well indeed there is a Thanksgiving tradition in Belize . It began in 1507 when conquistador Juan Maria Tuco Ramirez (centre pointing) landed just north of what is now Hopkins…


From a Mayan Lithograph, Museo de Prado, Madrid

The Spaniards had a hard time in the first months adjusting to the oppressive heat, humidity and swarms of sand fleas and might not have made it but for the generosity of the local Maya who were kind enough to share their knowledge of jungle survival and their women folk.

In return the conquistadores instilled in them the Christian based concepts of sin, guilt and recipes for arroz y frijoles, tostadas, garnaches and tacos. The Maya served them a traditional feast of roast Tapir (top pic) and their foul local brew made from maize and named after the muddy waters of the local river – Belix later Belikin-named after one of the temples later occupied by the Toltecs. It is marketed these days as HPB ale….


After dinner most of the inebriated Spaniards were slaughtered and the Maya gave thanks to Kukulcan the sun God by performing non anesthetic open heart surgery on Juan Ramirez…..


….hence the moniker Thanksgiving. When the Royal Navy arrived in 1764 this practice was outlawed and the locals were forced to work cutting mahogany and export sugar to be sent back to England. Many were also employed by Samuel Wrigley making papaya flavoured juicy fruit gum. Roads and bridges and power plants were eventually built-in the late 19th century. The locals again gave thanks for this by rudely asking the Brits to leave in 1981 after which the infrastructure decayed. The locals however named their roadways “camino de mierda” to honour their former colonial oppressors. Remnants of the depressed infrastructure are now evident everywhere….


Photo courtesy of Min.of Works, Banana Rep. Of Belize

The traditional Belizean dinner at this time of year is a  marginally palatable mess called boil up (bile up as its pronounced) in memory of how Juan met his end….



Happy Thanksgiving!



What do you think of this post?
  • Interesting 
  • Meh 
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Awesome 

One Response to “Thanksgiving in the Banana Republic of Belize”

  1. Carole Kocian says:

    They do celebrate Thanksgiving (the American one) because the expats brought their culture with them in that sense. The “Thanksgivings” as described above were more spontaneous than marked by a date on the calendar the third Thursday in November but currently any tourist can find a Thanksgiving in the traditional estadounidenses meal way and get the bird (turkey is very available in the area because it is a native species), the stuffing, gravy, potatoes and pumpkin pie lots of places. Even Butterball brand if you’re residing in Belize and early enough to grab one at the larger local groceries. I’d say it would be difficult to find the corresponding Belizean style meal of local provisions in celebration of showing thanks for all blessings of divine source on the exact date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: