September 21 is Belize’s Independence Day, and the entire country comes alive with the exhilarating celebrations one would expect from a young nation with such a rich history and culture. Belizeans have always been enthusiastic about exercising free speech and their right to independence, so it is no wonder they so vigorously pursued, embraced and now celebrate nationhood.
This makes September a great month to enjoy the multi cultural party that really kicks in September 10, the Battle of St George Caye Day, and peaks on September 21 when, at midnight 1981, the blue, white and red flag of the independent nation of Belize was first raised throughout the country.
The story of Belizean Independence is as colourful as the country itself. From the first nomadic peoples who settled to establish the incredible Maya civilisation beginning in 1800 BC, to the legendary Baymen and the pirates, slaves, adventurers, explorers and other settlers who followed, Belize has grown with a certain rugged independence and sense of fair play. It was only natural that even with many obstacles to overcome, the people would, without resorting to violence or warfare, demand and receive their independence. This sense of victory is very still fresh and very much alive in Belize today, and is at no time more apparent than during September.
The former colony of British Honduras officially changed its name to Belize in 1973, and the drive towards statehood continued to gain ‘people power’ momentum, despite obstacles such as a long standing sovereignty dispute with neighbouring Guatemala. The push for freedom continued, however, and on September 21, 1981, Belize’s Independence was finally declared.
Belize is now a thriving democracy, with high voter turnout and lively participation in the electoral process. Creole, Mestizo, Garifuna, Maya, Asian, European and the many other ethnic groups of Belize continue to unite under the banner of statehood and take pride in the ongoing development of their small robust country.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is, “United and Proud – Moving Forward – I Am Belize”, and this perfectly sums up the national feeling.
Belizean Independence has been celebrated at Chaa Creek since that historic midnight in 1981, and this year the party continues as we encourage visitors to join in celebrating the fulfilment of what for many years was a passionate dream – the birth of the sovereign and independent nation of Belize.
Happy Birthday and Viva Belize!