Easter is celebrated with much fanfare in Belize as well as with much religious devotion.
|2019||19 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|20 Apr||Sat||Holy Saturday|
|22 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|11 Apr||Sat||Holy Saturday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
There are plenty of special church services as well as secular events, and the whole period from Good Friday through Easter Monday forms a four-day weekend that everyone enjoys. Schools close down for a full week, many public services shut down on Thursday through Monday, and business slows down for the full length of Holy Week. Many are off work, but should employers need their staff on Good Friday or Easter Monday, they must pay double-sized holiday pay rates.
The arrival of Easter brings warm weather to Belize, though a Caribbean breeze can cool things down on occasion. The spring flowers also signal that Easter is near, and the landscape comes alive with red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, and other colours due to the excessive blooming in many areas. Another sign that Easter is nearing is the crowds you see everywhere, the roadside altars with flowers to commemorate Jesus’ death, and the worshipers moving through the stations of the cross in public places on Good Friday.
On Saturday night, churches usually hold Easter vigils to welcome the Easter Morning at midnight. Sermons and songs proclaim the meaning and power of Christ’s Resurrection, and after service, families gather together for a festive meal or go outside for a picnic. Later in the day, there will be football (soccer) and other sports events, fairs, and other local events. Many choose instead, however, to travel to destinations in other parts of Belize or even to Cancun or Playa del Carmen in neighbouring Mexico.
Two of the most popular places locals and tourists alike swarm to on Easter are:
- The Gladden Spit Marine Reserve in the vicinity of Placencia. Here, you can dive or snorkel alongside the largest fish in the world, whale sharks. They are gentle giants, so the danger is only to the spawning fish that they come here to eat this time of year. Placencia also offers kayaking, deep sea fishing, hiking, and access to Mayan ruins.
- Cayo District. Here, you can see more Mayan ruins at Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. You can also visit the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave, a three-mile-long limestone cave in Roaring Creek Valley, which has a stream running through it.
On the days surrounding Easter, some events to see or attend in Belize include:
- On Good Friday, in Benque Viejo del Carmen, see the re-enactment of the way of the cross. After mass, a procession goes through the streets, which have already been decorated with coloured sawdust artistry. These traditions are in line with those of neighbouring Mexico and seem to have “spilled across the border” into this little town in far western Belize.
- Watch the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycle Race held every year in San Ignacio Town. The people of Belize love cycling, so this 140-mile bike race is one of their favourite events. You can watch it begin in San Ignacio, watch it end in Belize City, or watch the whole race on TV. The race became traditional because people had to ride bikes during colonial days to get attend cricket and soccer games. In the villages and towns through which the bikers pass, fairs and dances are often held as well.
- On Easter Monday, things begin to slow down. However, the Burrel Boom fair is held not far from Belize City. It has horse races besides the usual fair food, rides, and exhibits. There are also a few other smaller fairs scattered throughout Belize that run on Easter Monday.
Easter and Easter Weekend see major celebrations in Belize, both religious and secular, and the tourist to Belize at this time of year will find no shortage of fun and interesting things to do.