Celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day in Belize
The Garifuna culture is one of the most important and iconic elements of the harmonious melting pot society that gives Belize its special charm. With their heritage in a mixed population of African slaves and native Carib islanders, the Garifuna fled persecution from the British in the Caribbean and arrived on the shores of Belize on November 19, 1832 in a series of dugout canoes.
Today, Garifuna Settlement Day, a day set aside to commemorate the arrival of the Garinagu people (Garifuna is the adjective), is a national holiday. Although celebrated all over the country, the best and most energetic festivities are held in the villages and towns like Seine Beight, Punta Gorda and Dangriga with large populations of Garinagu. Every year as dawn breaks on November 19, teams of Garinagu re-enact their historic voyage by dugout canoe, once again on the shores of Belize to great cheers, food, and music.
Throughout the day, special dancers wearing masks and ropes of shells around their legs perform a special Jankunu dance through the streets. Music erupts from every home, restaurant, and bar, including traditional Garifuna melodies and newer forms like punta music, a type of music influenced by reggae and African rhythms that originated in Dangriga.
Food is also an important part of Garifuna Settlement Day with vendors and cafes serving up beloved traditional fare like hudut (fish cooked in a coconut broth), dharasa (a kind of tamale made with green bananas), and lots of cassava bread.
The history of the Garinagu began somewhere around 1635 when African slaves imported by the British to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent to work in the mines and plantations intermarried with local Carib and Arawak peoples. Sometimes called “Black Caribs”, the Garinagu were expelled from St. Vincent by British troops in 1796. Moving further west, the Garinagu reached the island of Roatan (now part of Honduras) where they mastered the art of growing and cooking with cassava as well as fishing. From there, the Garinagu made their way further south until arriving in Belize nearly 200 years ago.
Barefoot Rentals and Services
Based in Placencia, Barefoot Rentals and Services is a locally-owned and operated company that offers vehicle rentals. Don’t miss a minute of all the excitement of Garifuna Settlement Day at top locations like Seine Beight, Dangriga and Hopkins when you rent a vehicle with Barefoot.
Barefoot Rentals and Services has golf carts, scooters, dirt bikes, and a fleet of modern SUVs for rent so that visitors can enjoy all of the fun, singing, food, and dancing of Garifuna Settlement Day, one of Belize’s most iconic and unique holidays.