There are many things that were so different with the celebration of Easter in the past. Well, you know how it is today and perhaps this recollection will give you a good comparison perspective.
First of all the most vivid recollection is that the sleeping village became alive and jovial from Holy Thursday to Easter Monday with hundreds of Belize City folks coming to San Pedro to enjoy the beach, sun and sea. There were no hotels so they stayed at the homes of friends and acquaintances.
This was the time of the year that Belize City residents remembered their friends in San Pedro and a perfect time to make friends. The streets and beaches looked busy and even the stores rejoiced with their sales. This was the only time we kids smelled what was called “sun tan lotion” because we could never afford it nor needed it.
We the children thought that Belize City people were smart, refined, intelligent, rich and famous. We even used to boast that “So and So” had stayed at our homes. Net Vasquez and his family used to be my father’s best friends and stayed at our home. We are still very good friends and our family used to stay at his house in the city occasionally as well. You see what I mean about friendships?
Another thing that stands out in my mind about Easter in the past was the Good Friday procession. It was attended by the entire village. All women were at the front in full white or black or perhaps purple. All men were at the back in black pants and white shirts with long sleeves. This was the largest concentration of people at any one place and at any one time in San Pedro.
But the most outstanding recollection, which I loved, was the participation of the musical band in the procession. Yes, a band played funeral marches and hymns during the procession, so beautiful that it gave you the goose bumps and many people cried because it felt like a true funeral going on.
Stores closed their doors as the procession passed along and people turned off their music. It was a three-hour long procession from 5 to 8 p.m., a real sacrifice our parents used to say. If we wanted to leave the procession, we had to get the teacher’s permission or sneak out.
Yet there are other little things to be remembered about Easter in the past. It was the only time in the year that some men wore shoes. Out of respect for the holiness of the day, we never used to swim in the sea on Good Friday because we believed we would turn into a fish or mermaid or something. The sacrament of Confession was for everybody on Good Friday, without a miss.
Moms never cooked on that day, or washed clothes, nor washed their hair. All of that was done the day before. Stores were closed all day and the bars were closed daylong and the night too. There was no opening of bars or discotheques after the procession or six in the evening.
There was no partying. This, I believe, should be the jurisdiction of the town council or Chamber of Commerce if we are to maintain our identity and tradition with reverence and respect for what is holy because money can’t buy salvation. Men never went fishing that day. They would even refuse to hoist a sail on a Good Friday. If a boat was drifting in strong sea currents, it ran the risk of wrecking because no one lifted a finger on that day.
So you got the idea of Easter and Good Friday 25 years ago? That is why so many people of the past generation very vehemently object the changing of our traditions today, all in the name of making money or because visitors deserve to have fun. Well, I believe that we can leave one day to really pray, recollect, reminisce, commemorate, and give thanks to God for giving us an Easter. On behalf of Twenty Five Years Ago, my family and Ambergris Today, a happy and Blessed Easter to everyone.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist