Hopkins Garifuna Settlement Day

Last week, our village of Hopkins, Belize celebrated Garifuna Settlement Day. This is a national Belizean holiday celebrated each year on November 19. The main event of Garifuna Settlement day is the re-enactment of boats arriving to the shores of Belize. (The side events are parties and drumming all weekend long. Hopkins fills with local and foreign tourists hoping to celebrate in a culturally rich Garifuna village)

[Some history taken from belizehub.com…] Back in the mid-1600s, a British ship with African slaves bound for the West Indies shipwrecked near St. Vincent island. Survivors found refuge on St. Vincent island, where the Carib Indians had been residing. Over time, these African peoples began to intermarry with local Arawak and Carib peoples, mixing traditions, languages, and music to form the Garifuna culture.

After rising up against the British, the Garifuna were pursued through the Caribbean, ultimately making their ways to the shores of Belize on November 19, 1802. […end History lesson]

When visiting Hopkins, you can see the re-enactment of this arrival during the early morning of November 19th. This year, the ships started off at 5am for a beach called Hawaii. There, the boats were decorated with branches and other natural adornments. The boat passengers wear traditional Garifuna clothing and proceed drumming and singing to the dock in the center of Hopkins Village. The dock and beach are filled with villagers and tourists waiting for the beautiful, joyful boats. Sometimes, a drama will play out with a white man turning the boat away two or three times before finally, triumphantly, receiving the boat and its passengers. After which there is a musical processional to the church.

Nov 19, 2023 Arrival

If you want to learn more about the Garifuna culture and history while you are visiting Hopkins, I can wholeheartedly recommend you do the Garifuna Immersion tour. It’s a cooking, history and drumming lesson all in one.