Mayan Culture in Belize
Learn Mayan culture first hand by staying with a Mayan family in Belize.
Today, men generally wear Euro-American style pants and shirts. Women display caribbean folk dress in a range, from modern to traditional in their clothes. Many women wear plain colored, full length dresses sewn from a variety of bright color material, with lace trimmings around the collar and sleeves. More formal dresses and skirts are made of machine or hand woven cloth. Blouses are made of white or colored cotton cloth and decorated with embroidery or lace trimmings.
Mayan Festivals, Music and Dances
The Mopan Mayans maintain a strong link to the past through rituals, folklore and family quiolal. Dancing and traditional music remain important as several festivals and celebrations occur throughout the year. On these special occasions, masks and elaborate costumes are worn by dancers, singers and musicians.
One celebration occurs on the 1st and 2nd of November, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. On this day huge feasts are prepared for ancestors. In the late evening these meals are set on tables along with candles in the houses of those who have lost their loved ones. If the food is gone in the morning, the people believe that their ancestors came for the food.
The feast of San Luis is celebrated during Easter. Traditional dances are danced, such as the Cortez dance and the deer dance. The Cortez dance uses flutes, drums and rattles to dramatize the combined forces of the church and army during the European conquest. The deer dance is accompanied by the marimba and symbolizes the important relationship between humanity and nature.
Knowledge of the medicinal values of many plants in the region has been passed down through generations. Many Mopan Mayans still collect these plants and herbs to cure our illness and maintain good health.
Mayan Local Government System
The community is governed by the Alcalde system. Every 3 years an Alcalde is elected in November. All Villagers are invited to an assembly and a majority vote decides on a leader . The Alcalde is very important to the community as he has complete authority and a mandate to govern. His role is to ensure peace and harmony in the Village through judging disputes and levying small fines.