Dec. 18, 2014, Ambergris Caye, Belize: On Ambergris Caye, Belize, Christmas is celebrated with the annual San Pedro Christmas Boat Parade.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
For those of us who grew up in snow country, it seems odd to be walking around in T-shirts and flip-flops on Christmas Day, but, having lived here on Ambergris Caye for seven years now, I've come to appreciate that Belize offers a unique collection of blended Christmas traditions. Home to more than 10 different ethnic groups, this country boasts the most multicultural holiday celebrations I can imagine.
First and foremost, Christmas in Belize is about spending quality time with family and friends. Government offices, banks, and most non-tourism-oriented businesses shut down for the week surrounding Christmas Day. Festivities and family time continue through Boxing Day (Dec. 26) at least, a throwback to Belize's days as a British colony.
One important Christmas tradition, remembered throughout Belize, is to spiff up the interior of your home. This is a Belizean's way of inviting the Christmas spirit. One Belizean friend told me not to judge a local's home by the exterior this time of year. It's what's inside that counts come holiday time. She explained that everyone brings out their gold, red, and green curtains, tablecloths, etc.
And, in preparation for all the holiday visiting, Belizeans don't just decorate the insides of their homes this time of year; they give them a facelift, too. They repaint the walls, hang new drapes, even replace the linoleum. This is the Belizean version of spring cleaning, and the entire family pitches in.
Many Belizeans put up Christmas trees, but typically the synthetic version. Those who can afford it decorate the outsides of their homes, too, with elaborate lights. Blow-up Santas, reindeer, lobsters, and manger scenes are especially popular. In San Pedro Town, where we live, The San Pedro Sunleads an annual tour to vote for the best decorated house.