“Alegría y Color, La Máscara de la Tradición” the carnaval in full swing
Monday, March 3rd, 2014
The annual carnaval festivities are in full swing on Ambergris Caye with dance groups as well as painters taking advantage of the events planned by the San Pedro Town Council. Four adults and one children’s comparsa groups entertained the many spectators who anxiously waited for them as they made their way through the principal streets of the town. This year the celebrations are being centered on the theme “Alegría y Color, La Máscara de la Tradición (Happiness and color – the mask of our tradition)”
The carnaval is an old tradition, dating back over 150 years and is centered on a Mestizo character called Juan Carnaval. When the Mestizo from southern Mexico migrated to northern Belize, they brought many of their beliefs and traditions, including the Juan Carnaval celebration that is still observed in northern Belize (including on Ambergris Caye). It is held three consecutive days prior to Ash Wednesday, which kicks start the 40 days of the Lenten Season in the Christian community. The carnaval celebration includes lively and originally choreographed street dances – mostly in Spanish – depicting current events and other forms of livelihood on the island. In addition, the century old painting tradition of blue dye and soot (black powdery substance left behind by burnt material) has slowly evolved into colorful modern-day water paint.
Regardless of the new form that the old tradition has taken, it still invites hundreds of islanders to the street and this year is no exception. On the beach and on Barrier Reef Drive, children and a few adults, equipped with colorful paints, preyed on unpainted victims as they strolled into the area. The many children and adults, all shared the joy and excitement that the traditional painting brings to the carnival celebration.
Meanwhile, dance groups performed various dances, from the “Los Indios” brought out by the San Pedro Aids Commission and the “Chinitos” brought out by Flora Ancona, to Ambergris Caye Elementary School’s “Sports group” and the “Cholo’s Barbie Boys” who impersonated female celebrities. They all displayed their musical talents with the composition of their original songs, and their dance styles were certainly original.
The events, which for the first time are being recorded by National Institute for Culture and History, will run until Wednesday March 5th when Juan Carnaval will be burnt at the Central Park.
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