A September to Remember: Celebrating Belize’s Independence Day

by Carolee Chanona

In Belize, we’re approaching an Independence Day that is far from traditional after a year like 2020. Where some families might head out for an annual firework show, sandbar party, or even roadside Carnival march with friends, our “typical” plans are simply not possible this year. However, civic pride should never hinge on the celebratory activities, but solely on celebrating the month itself and the milestone achievements held within. Much akin to our current climate, Belize celebrates this September with the following national theme, thanks to Martinez, a thirteen-year-old second-form student of Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio:

Overcoming adversity. Creating opportunity. Belizeans: Unite for prosperity.

After all, there are still ways to add a little spark for a September to remember.

Glancing back at a typical September Celebration 

The Battle of St. Georges Caye Day

On September 10th Belizeans celebrate the Battle of St. George’s Caye that took place (at you guessed it) St. George’s Caye, located approximately 8 miles away off the coast of Belize City. This Battle celebrates the victory of the British Baymen, Settlers, and slaves defeating the Spaniards in 1798. While the battle was short, lasting from the 3rd to the 10th, it was a monumental win for the Baymen. This pivotal event in Belizean history gained the Baymen their territory and freedom by conquest.

Belize’s Independence Day

Belize – then British Honduras – was granted self-government in 1964 with a new constitution, renamed in 1973, then finally achieved independence from British rule on the 21st of September, 1981. Actually, Belize evolved through several stages of decolonization as a British colony; from universal adult suffrage in 1954 up to when George Price, Belize’s “Father of the Nation”, initiated the independence process for Belize while serving as ‘First Minister’. In the 1970s Belize took its case for self-determination to the international community, appealing to the United Nations (UN) and joining the Nonaligned Movement (see neutralism). Although the dispute between Guatemala and Great Britain remained unresolved, Belize became independent on September 21, 1981, with a British defense guarantee, and was admitted to the UN.

Reminiscing on a typical September Celebrations Roster

Whether your typical September celebration in Belize was by attending one, or all, events, let’s look back at the typical roster!

carnival belize flag caribbean

Photo Courtesy: Jose A. Sanchez

Throughout the month, the unequivocal red, white and blue decorate every street corner, window sill, and even lamp post. Uniformed students gather after class to practice their road march formations while the sound of practicing marching bands resounds into the night. Though carnival bands have withdrawn from their usual ‘mas’, Carnival Road March actually spans months ahead of time with fundraising, practice drills, and preparations. Nonetheless, we look forward to celebrating our beautiful Belize (while at home) all month long!

Learn more on Belize’s typical September events here.

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