Belize has a population of approx 380,000 and a dynamic culture. Most Belizeans are of mixed descent with people from Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo, Mennonites and a blend of many other cultures from Chinese to East Indian.
Here we look at the culture of the Mestizo people in Belize:
The Mestizo are a people of mixed Spanish and Yucatan Maya descent whose primary language is Spanish and religion Catholic. It is thought that Mestizos make up approximately 48% of the population of Belize.
Learn more about the Mestizo People of Belize in this video:
Mestizo culture is evident throughout Belize, but strongest in the western regions of Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque Viejo del Carmen and in the northern areas of Corozal, Orange Walk and Ambergris Caye. The town of Benque Viejo del Carmen which sits on the Guatemalan border has some of the richest Mestizo traditions in Belize, including The Benque Fiesta .
The Benque Viejo del Carmen Fiesta
Each July, the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen celebrates their patron saint with cultural shows, marimba bands, local food and drinks, games, fair rides, sports, dances and prayer. It’s a wonderful time to visit this part of Belize and immerse in the Mestizo culture. On the last day of the Fiesta is a firework show, which is considered to be the best in Belize.
Los Finados & Dia de Los Muertos
It is well known that Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead/All Souls Day (known as Dia de Los Muertos & Los Finados), but it is also celebrated in Belize, particularly in the communities of the Mestizo People.
Los Finados is a spiritual celebration that commemorates the souls of departed loved ones with altars filled with their favourite foods, drinks, treats, and personal items.
On Dia de Los Muertos, Maya and Mestizo communities across Belize get together to commemorate the life and death of ancestors. At home, small tables serve as altars and are displayed with flowers, fruits, sweets, candles and portraits of their deceased. Families visit the cemetery and place flowers and food on the graves of their beloved departed.
Los Finados - Photo Credit The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH)
Las Posadas is Christmas tradition practised in Benque as well as other parts of Belize with a strong Mestizo heritage. The custom begins on December 16th with the statues of Mary and Joseph being carried from church to a private home in a procession with marimba music, candles and firecrackers. The statues continue their journey for nine days.
Traditional Mestizo food is a mixture of Spanish, Mexican and Maya. Popular dishes include salbutes , relleno, escabeche, chirmole, empanadas, tamales and corn tortillas.
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