Halloween in Belize
You may be wondering what Halloween is like in Belize. After all, Halloween started out as an Irish festival, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom and Belize is part of the British Commonwealth. While typical Halloween activities like trick-or-treating and costume parties can be be found (helped greatly by the growing numbers of expats in the country), there are other annual observations that fall around October 31 in Belize.
The Mestizos of the north and west portions of Belize observe Los Finados, a celebration honoring loved ones that have passed away. Because the Maya believed that life continued after death and Belize was a major cultural center of the Maya, this holiday has continued into the present.
Travelers looking to celebrate Los Finados should take a pilgrimage to the quaint town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen in Cayo. Here, the day opens with a Catholic Mass and lighting candles to guide the departed to their living loved ones. Much like with Halloween, October is perceived to be a weak point between the worlds of the living and dead. At the end of the deceased’s journey, the living throw a massive “Los Finados” going away party for all of their loved ones who made it back for one night.
It is common to see decorated altars in homes, laden with candles and photos to guide the dead home. Ixpas is a traditional corn dish made specifically for this festival and is commonly and, along with tamales, is also placed on or near this altar. Rum and cigarettes are also commonly offered in instances where the deceased enjoyed those vices. Everything is presented smoking hot, if not on fire, as it is believed the dead cannot eat but can smell the smoke and steam.
Processions begin from the church or home and transfer to the cemetery, in order to lay down wreaths, candles and any food previously left by the home altar. While these rituals mark the conclusion of Los Finados, the younger generations of Belizeans have incorporated trick-or-treating as a follow-up activity.
At the end of the day, visiting Belize around the date October 31 means a chance to experience multiple holidays. While many Belizeans celebrate Los Finados, some travelers may recognize it as “Dia de Los Muertos” with a different name.
If you are visiting Belize in October, you can freely enjoy Halloween.