Belize Celebrates St George Caye Day – Now as in 1798

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The entire nation of Belize joins together on September 10 to celebrate St. George’s Caye Day and, according to The Lodge at Chaa Creek, the spirit shown in 1798 lives on today.

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“I don’t think there’s a Belizean alive this month who doesn’t share feelings of pride over what has been accomplished since that crucial day in 1798. We’ve all come a very long way..."

Belize’s September celebrations have officially kicked off with the national holiday of St George’s Caye Day with the entire nation joining together for the annual independence month celebrations, according to the owners of The Lodge at Chaa Creek.

“Many countries have an Independence Day or long weekend celebration, but in true Belizean style, we have Independence Month,” Lucy Fleming said today.

Ms Fleming explained that with Belize Independence Day falling on September 21, celebrations have continued throughout the month of September ever since Belize achieved independence from Great Britain on that date in 1981, the same date she and her husband Mick opened Chaa Creek after working the land as a small farm.

“It has a lot to do with the fact that independence is still so relatively recent and fresh in people’s minds. It was a momentous occasion that Belizeans worked so hard for many years to achieve,” Ms Fleming said, “It also has something to do with the fact the Belizeans love a good party. In fact, from now until New Year’s, the country will be in fiesta mode,” she added.

St George’s Caye day commemorates the Battle of St George’s Caye, a series of engagements running from 3 September to 10 September 1798, ending in victory when outnumbered and outgunned English-speaking settlers known as Baymen and African slaves defeated a Spanish invasion force of 32 vessels, some 500 sailors and 2000 soldiers after a final intense two and a half hour battle. This defining moment in British Honduran history is widely considered to be the birth of Belizean nationalism.

The battle of St George’s Caye has long captivated historians for its combination of tactics, courage and the solidarity of the defenders. For Belizeans, it marks the moment when the people of the settlement, of all races and creeds, rallied under the locally famous battle cry of “shoulder to shoulder” to defend the nascent colony, which later became British Honduras, Ms Fleming said.

One hundred years later, in 1898, the 10th of September was declared a public holiday, and today it continues to be celebrated with unbridled enthusiasm, and as the lead up to Belizean Independence Day.

“I don’t think there’s a Belizean alive this month who doesn’t share feelings of pride over what has been accomplished since that crucial day in 1798. We’ve all come a very long way, and today enjoy a lively, vibrant democracy with freedom of speech and a worldwide reputation as a model for environmental sustainability.

“Here at Chaa Creek that’s something we do take pride in being part of; that ever since independence Belize chose to develop an eco-tourism industry based on sustainability and responsible travel. In fact, the Belize Great Barrier Reef wouldn’t look much different to the Baymen who defended it in 1798 as it does to the Belizeans who continue to protect it today.

“Then, as now, Belizeans realise that there is something very special about this part of the world, and are willing to protect those things that, along with the people, make it so unique. To us, that’s the real spirit behind these annual celebrations,” Ms Fleming said.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an award winning eco resort set within a 365 acre private nature reserve in Belize.

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Mark Langan
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