By Angel Nuñez
At this time of the year San Pedro and indeed all of Ambergris Caye is preparing for American Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving comes the beginning of the Tourism Season so everyone is waiting anxiously in anticipation of good business.
Now for the same reason folks in San Pedro celebrate the Thanksgiving dinner with its baked turkey and all its trimming. Some organizations even organize turkey dinner sales, and restaurants advertise their special menus with turkey dinner specials. As you can see, San Pedro now celebrates the American Thanksgiving and I am sure most do without knowing its significance. Do I even know its meaning?
Twenty Five Years Ago November was also a month of Thanksgiving but with different dates and different reason. The month of November was called “Mes de Las Animas” meaning month of the souls. Families offered prayers on November 1 for the souls of deceased children or innocent ones and on November 2 prayers for the repose of the souls of the adults. This prayer was accompanied by a special dinner called “Finados” which was placed on the altar during the prayers and then shared with other families and relatives and even friends.
To prepare this special dinner of relleno (chicken cooked in a black soup with black recado seasoning and stuffed with pork) most families in San Pedro used to raise their pigs in their backyards. As soon as the eve of November arrived, the hog was butchered and the meat processed. Pork would be set aside to be ground to stuff the finados chicken.
Then, of course, came all the special dishes derived from pork like the “chicharon” (crispy pork grind). Then there was “higadia” prepared with the liver. Another special thanksgiving dinner was the 'morcia' or black pudding as it is called in the Creole culture. This was a sausage made with the small intestine stuffed with meat, blood and other parts. There was food to feed the family for one week or more.
As you can see November was indeed a special month. In a small fishing village where fish was the main dish EVERYDAY, the Finados dinner, or the San Pedro Thanksgiving was indeed a special occasion. Incidentally if you missed the first and second days of November, you could do so any day during the month. However, there was one thing in this Thanksgiving ritual and it was that there were no parties in November. There were no celebrations of birthdays, quinceanos, weddings, no type of dances for absolutely no reason because this was the religious custom.
I would like to say Happy American Thanksgiving to everyone, and also Happy November Finados or the San Pedro Thanksgiving of 25 years ago.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarious Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush -Richies Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery
Contact the Author at: [email protected]