Belize: Land of Jump-Ups
Belizeans LOVE to party or “jump-up.” They look for any excuse for a social gathering and no excuse is off limits. There are even jump-ups in celebration of other “jump-ups.”Â No matter the month, if you are visiting Belize on vacation its likely that there will be some kind of celebration happening somewhere in the country.
Here are a few of the more well-known and larger ones:
- In February/March in San Pedro Carnival takes place. Marking the begining of the Easter season, dancing, painting and lots of celebratory events are scheduled around this time each year.
- La Ruta Maya Canoe River Challenge occurs in the Cayo & Belize districts in March. This three-day race, along with three nights of requisite “jump-ups,” takes starts in San Ignacio and finishes in Belize City. If you miss this one, the San Pedro Lagoon Reef Eco-Challenge takes place in San Pedro in April. Both these races are exciting to watch and culminate in celebrations.
- May is the month to celebrate Belizean produce. Crooked Tree Village holds the Cashew Festival where everything cashew is the order of the day, including the cashew dance.
- In Punta Gorda, Toledo, the three day Chocolate Festival commences with a wine and chocolate evening, continues with a chocolate cookery and craft fair on Saturday and culminates in cultural activities and “jump-up” at a local Maya site on the final Sunday.
- June continues the theme of food but this time its lobster. San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia each celebrate the opening of the season. Delicious food and a variety of activities take place at the different venues throughout the country. Again, all culminate with jump-ups at the biggest venues these locales can find.
- In the tiny village of Progresso, in the Corozal district, the Pibil festival takes place in July. This highlights the traditional Maya way of cooking pork in a fire pit.
- Central American culture, dance and music are highlighted at the International Costa Maya Festival that takes place in San Pedro in August.
- September is THE Belize party month and there are two public and bank holidays. September 10th celebrates the Battle of St George’s Caye. Parades, parties and festivals are held throughout Belize. September 21st celebrates Belizean Independence from the British in 1981. Sandwiched in between these two national events is Carnival, a massive street “jump up” celebration and street parade in Belize City. And just in case you weren’t tired yet, another identical Carnival happens in Orange Walk precisely one week after the Belize City one. Numerous other events are held ranging from sporting to religious to cultural dances during December.
- October sees the RumFest in Orange Walk. Since this community is at the heart of the Sugar cane fields, this community celebrates the coming sugar season with a big “jump up” in the heart of the town.
- Southern Belize shines during November with Battle of the Drums showcasing garifuna music and 19th November marking Garifuna Settlement Day memorialising the arrival of the Garinagu people to Belize.Â As the kings of dance, the Garifuna dance into the wee hours of every morning during the period surrounding this day.
Since the only thing Belizeans prefer over “jumping up” is food, you will often find these “jump-ups” tied to food events. What better way to work of the delicious meals that dancing it off? Wherever and whenever you are planning a trip to Belize, you are sure to find a “jump-up” celebration happening in this small country.
Check with the Belize Tourism Board www.travelbelize.org for more information and to confirm dates of the various festivals.
-Belize Chocolate Company