Honduras is the second largest country in Central America. Originally known as Higüeras after a native plant, the land was named Honduras, meaning ‘deep waters,’ by Christopher Columbus. It combines nine different cultural groups (indigenous European and African races, plus six main indigenous Indian groups) speaking as many languages, to create a diverse and colourful living history. Spanish is the official language, although Hondurans use many English words as a result of North American influence. Honduras is also home to the largest Garifuna community in the world, whose members are descendants of West Africans, Arawaks and Caribs.
Hondurans are kind, hospitable, hard-working and determined people who place a strong emphasis on family loyalty. Elders are respected for their experience and wisdom and Hondurans feel a deep sense of responsibility for family members who are in need of help.
Honduras is rich in history, including the ancient Mayan history of Copan (the pride of Honduras), colonial history and natural history. Recently, fragments of fabric 1,500 years old have been discovered in Copan, showing that the textiles woven by the Mayas were of extremely high quality. Hondurans seem to have artisanship in their blood, and are known for beautiful ceramics, such as the pieces made by the Lenca people following traditional techniques. Fantastic weaving of natural fibres, and the creation of intricate wood carvings, many of which repeat the designs from previous generations, evoke the Mayan spirit and the natural beauty of the country. They are also known for basketry, embroidery, bead necklaces, leatherwork, stone carving, wickerwork, and even bark cloth made from the tunu tree.
Music is an important part of the culture and includes such traditional instruments as drums, whistles and flutes made of clay or wood, trumpets made of bamboo and wood, and the marimba (similar to the xylophone). Literature includes a rich heritage of legends and folklore, many of which involve stories of chickens and roosters, and works devoted to nature’s beauty.
Records indicate that Hondurans have been coming to Canada since 1974, in large part because of civil conflict, but more recently as a result of the damage caused to their country in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch. Their numbers remain small as 2011 census listed 8000 Hondurans.
Sponsor: Williamstown Green Thumb Horticultural Society | Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons