The Akumalian

Akumal's Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
Quintana Roo, Mexico

[an error occurred while processing this directive]  

December 2008  Issue 72

Return to Home Page    2008 Index

INTRODUCTION

Things picked up considerably in November, and the expectation is that December will be an extremely busy and active month as many “locals” return to Akumal for the last “Best Shirt” Award of 2008 and the series of December holidays and festivities, including Christmas.  It’s also a good time to return to Akumal to get a 25 percent discount on early payment of the property taxes.

 There is a lot going on this December, and as a result, this issue of The Akumalian is jam-packed with information.  Take your time and stay with it to the end.

IMPORTANT DECEMBER FACTS

Sagittarius - November 22 - December 21
  Capricorn -  December 22 - January 19

December Birthstone: Blue Topaz
December’s official birthstone is the Blue Topaz.  This beautiful blue gemstone is also the traditional gemstone for a couple’s fourth wedding anniversary.

December Birthday Flower: Poinsettia
Though known for its association with the holidays, the poinsettia is also a December birthday flower. Poinsettias traditionally symbolize success and good cheer.
 

DECEMBER BIRTHDAYS

Birthdays  
5          Joyce Hornor
5          Susan Gravlee
11        Phill Combs
16        Dean Keegan
21        Diane Mahan
24        Laura Bush
25        Francys McCasland
30        Ritchie Fredette
 
There must be more than this.  Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens. 

Missed November Birthdays / Anniversary
None that are known; got everybody, right?

MISSING A THANKSGIVING TURKEY?


 

YouTube Video – RICHARD ATTACKS LOBSTER CLAW

The Akumalian has moved onto YouTube with a short video on how to attack a hard lobster claw.  During a recent visit to Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Richard & Arlene Pargot enjoyed a delicious New England lobster dinner, where Richard was challenged by a large 3-pound lobster with a very hard shell.  Check this out at Richard Attacks Lobster Claw
 

PAY PROPERTY TAXES IN AKUMAL!!

Great news!  We were once again able to pay our property taxes in Akumal!  This opportunity has passed (November 25 & 26), but the 25% discount is still available from November 15th Until December 15th.

 Is this a way to reduce your property tax? This is a picture of a house built on stilts in Palestine to avoid paying taxes.  Palestinians pay a property tax according to square footage of their house on the ground only.
  

CONSEJO DE DESARROLLO DE AKUMAL S.A.

There was a General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, November 19th.  The Akumalian was unable to attend, so there are no informal minutes or photos for this issue of The Akumalian.  The Minutes have been posted on the Akumal Council web site at Akumal Council Nov 19 Minutes.

On another note, the Akumal Council has emergency number magnets available:  2 for $5 US (50 Pesos) or 10 for $20 US (200 Pesos).  See November issue of The Akumalian for an image.
 

CONJUNCTION OF MOON, VENUS, AND JUPITER, DEC 1

Watch for the conjunction of Moon, Venus, and Jupiter on December 1st.  The crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter will form a 3-degree triangle in the evening sky.

            Over the next few days, anyone looking southwest after the Sun sets and evening twilight deepens will witness a close pairing of the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter.  On November 30th and December 1st they will be separated by only 2° — about the width of your finger held at arm’s length.  And on the evening of December 1st, skywatchers in the Americas will see the crescent Moon joining the two planets to make a remarkably compact celestial triangle. 

The accompanying illustration shows the scene.  It's plotted for observers in the middle of North America (and the alignment of the Venus-Jupiter pairing is exact for November 30th), but it’s close enough to give a good idea of how the scene will look from anywhere in North America on the evenings in question.

Although the three objects look close together, the appearance is deceiving.  The Moon is only 252,000 miles away, less far than you may have driven a car in your lifetime.  Right now Venus is 370 times farther away, at 94 million miles.  And Jupiter, at 540 million miles, is nearly six times farther than Venus.

If the sky is cloudy for this event, don't despair.  Venus and the crescent Moon will have another spectacular twilight pairing (though without Jupiter) on December 31st, New Year's Eve!
 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, DECEMBER 5th

Come one, come all, to the Beach Bar, where we’ll have a ball.

It’s time for another “Best Shirt Award”, which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar. 

This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary, is ready to once again be the judge and jury as she selects the “Best Shirt” for December.  And, as we go to print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, and they seem to be changing as we move into the high season.

The November competition drew a huge number of very colorful and ambitious contestants, and, as it turned out, Judy Holz from Aventuras Akumal took top honors over a high stepping crowd of competitors.

The photos are located at November Best Shirt Award.
 

ENRIQUE ALCARAZ ART SHOW, DECEMBER 5 & 6th

On Friday and Saturday, December 5 & 6 respectively, between 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm, Akumal’s own Enrique Alcaraz is having a showing of his recent paintings at Casa Magna in North Akumal.  The title of the show is “Aqua”.

Enrique says, “Yes, we will have wine, drinks and appetizers, and all artwork is for sale.  The prices will be listed at the exhibition.”

Casa Magna is what use to be Carol Igini's house – big wall with wooden door – and this is located between Mi Casa del Mar and Casa Solymar in North Akumal.
 

ST. NICHOLAS DAY, DECEMBER 6th

Strictly speaking, the tradition of St. Nicholas is not synonymous with the role of Santa Claus in the U.S.  As practiced in many European countries, the celebration of St. Nicholas is separate from the Christmas holidays, and occurs during the 2 weeks prior to December 6th, which is St. Nicholas's day.  Sometimes St. Nicholas Day is the main holiday for gift giving, and not Christmas.

St. Nicholas was born in 271 AD and died around December 6, 342 or 343 AD near the Asia Minor (Turkey) town of Myra, where he later became Bishop.  He performed many good deeds and was a friend to the poor and helpless, and upon his death, myths soon sprang up about him all around the Mediterranean Sea.  He was reputed to be able to calm the raging seas, rescue desperate sailors, help the poor and downtrodden, and save children.  He was soon named as the patron saint of sailors, and when Myra was overthrown, his bones were transported by sailors to Bari, a port in Italy, where a tomb was built over the grave and became the center of honor for St. Nicholas.  From here the legend spread on around to the Atlantic Coast of Europe and the North Sea to become a European holiday tradition regardless of religion.

In anticipation of St. Nicholas's nightly visits, children in several European countries put their shoes in front of the fire place.  They sing traditional songs and provide a carrot or hay for the horse.  At night, Black Pete puts gifts and candy in the shoes.

In the Netherlands, families celebrate St Nicholas's birthday the night before his feast day (December 6th).  At one point during the evening, a loud knock will herald the arrival of Sinterklaas and at the same time candy may be thrown from upstairs; when the door is opened, a bag of gifts will be on the doorstep.

 In Germany, St. Nicholas is also known as Klaasbuur, Sunnercla, Burklaas, Bullerklaas, and  Rauklas, and in eastern Germany, he is also known as Shaggy Goat, Ash Man and Rider, and he is more reflective of earlier pagan influences (Norse) that were blended in with the figure of St. Nicholas, when Christianity came to Germany.  After the reformation, St. Nicholas's attire began to change, maybe as a reflection of the change from the Roman church, and he started to wear a red suit with fur.  His dark-skinned helper is most often known as Knecht Ruprecht.  Although he still visits many homes on Dec 5th/6th and leaves candy and gifts in the children's shoes, more recently St. Nicholas has begun showing up on Christmas Eve in Germany and is called Father Christmas.

In France, he is now called Pere Noel (Father Christmas), and he travels in the company of Pere Fouettard.  Pere Noel leaves presents for good children, while Pere Fouettard disciplines bad children with a spanking.  Pere Noel only sometimes leaves presents on St. Nicholas day, more often now on Christmas.  St. Nicholas day was celebrated formerly in Russia, but under Communism he was changed to Grandfather Frost and wore blue instead of red.  In Sicily, he comes on December 13th and is called Santa Lucia.
 

CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO

The first thing to know about celebrating Christmas in Mexico is that most everybody takes off the last two weeks in December - to party, spend more time with the family, visit with old friends, even make new friends.  One of the biggest fiestas of the year - in small towns, big cities, the beach resorts, everywhere - Christmas in Mexico is celebrated in a variety of ways.  A common denominator is the posada, a recreation of Mary (on donkey) and Joseph searching for a "room at the inn."  Accompanying them is a choir of small children who knock on doors asking for lodging for the weary couple.  By previous arrangement, there are no takers.
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

            The Akumalian is working from a remote site in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and is dependent on on-site reports from the Lol Ha Beach Bar for this month’s “Comings and Goings” section, so the verbiage may be a little dated once this issue is published.  Anyway, it’s a best effort, and BIG thanks goes to Mary Henderson and Monica Estrada for their reports.

Comings:
·       
Richard & Arlene Pargot were briefly in Chatham in mid-November
·       
Denny & Diane Mahan are reportedly returning to Akumal before Christmas
·       
Pat & Cheryl Ragan were back in Cas Maleno.
·       
Karen & Larry Kantor were visiting their Casa Mariposa on the Lagoon.
·       
Michelle Conner came back to her Las Hamacas in South Akumal
·       
Jim & Jackie Powers have returned to Jade Bay.
·       
Linda Tate has returned from her trip to China.
·       
Linda's brother, Ken Tate, arrived Thanksgiving Day.
·       
Joe & Tini were back in La Casitas for a short stay.
·       
Adrian Dunlap has returned to town.
·       
Mike & Cathy Cook (Playa Caribe) were here with lots of family and friends
·       
Sharon Brier and (we??) will be at Casa Mayanah Dec 27 to Jan 3. 

Goings:
·       
Zubet went to the States for a week on Nov. 2-7
·       
Monica Estrada went to El Paso for Thanksgiving.
·       
Dani is in Chicago awaiting the birth of her first child.
·       
Mary Henderson celebrated Thanksgiving in Carmichael, California with her fellow "Akumalians".   Left to right: Myrna's mom, Katie, Gary Sparks, Myrna Sparks, Mary, Sharon Goby, and Sam Goby.

 

 

POINSETTIA DAY, DECEMBER 12th

Poinsettias are traditional Christmas plants.  When people shop for turkeys, crackers and presents, they also pick up a poinsettia.  Their vivid red bracts (leaves) have become associated with Santa's coat and robins' breasts.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where the Aztecs used them in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries both for medicinal purposes and for making dye.  Poinsettias are 'short day plants', meaning they flower when there are less than 12 hours daylight, to ensure the minimum of competitors of pollinating insects.  The colored red leaves surround the base of the tiny flower heads and are designed to attract insects that might otherwise overlook the flowers.

The Christmas connection to poinsettias comes from a Mexican legend which tells of a poor girl who dreams of bringing a beautiful gift to favor the Virgin Mary for a Christmas Eve service, yet has nothing worthy.  On the way to Church, she meets an angel who tells her to pick some weeds.  She kneels by the roadside and, despite her protests that they are far from desirable, gathers a handful of common weeds and makes her way to a small chapel where she places her offering on the altar.  The moment she does, they burst into blooms of brilliant red poinsettias and her sorrow turns to joy.  The Mexicans renamed it Flor de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve Flower).  

The ancients knew this plant as Cuetlaxochitl, which means "the flower of leather petals".  The ancients considered all flowers to be divine gifts of the Gods, not only because of their wonderful beauty, scent and color, but they were also believed to be metaphors of the most beautiful feelings.  This star-shaped, red, winter-flowering plant was a special favorite long before the arrival of Columbus.

Poinsettia Day is on December 12th.  It was declared in honor of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, whom the plant is named after.
 

FULL MOON, DECEMBER 12th

The Full Cold Moon is on December 12th at 10:37 a.m. AST.  Among some Maya tribes, it’s also called the Full Long Nights Moon.  In this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are at their longest and darkest.  The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name, because the midwinter night is indeed long, and the Moon is above the horizon a long time.  The midwinter full Moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low Sun.

The moon will also be at perigee later this day, at 4:00 p.m. AST, at a distance of 221,560 mi. (356,566 km.) from Earth.  Very high ocean tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with full moon.
 

CHILDREN SINGING AT THE BEACH BAR – LAS RAMAS

Ever wonder what it is all about when the Mexican children come around the Beach Bar with a box and sing for money?  Here’s the “rest of the story”.

Here in the Yucatan, this ritual has a little trickster twist to it.  Here in Akumal, they have Las RamasRamas means “branches” and the little visitors all hold branches, so that must be where they get their name.

Each night during Advent, the 24 days leading up to Christmas, children of the neighborhood travel from bar to restaurant singing a song and collecting money.  With them they carry las ramas as well as a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, somehow set up with a candle.  It’s typically a little box, with flowers and candles in front of the Virgin. 

In this tradition, the children go door to door in their neighborhood, singing this song.  They sing or shout it very quickly so that it’s almost impossible to tell what they are saying.
 

GEMINIDS METEOR SHOWER, DECEMBER 13-14th

Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, the Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak.  The peak of the shower is on the morning of December 13, although some meteors should be visible from December 6 - 19.  Unfortunately, the full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year, even in dark locations.  The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini.  Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.
 

LA POSADAS, DECEMBER 16th to 24th

La Posadas, the remarkable buildup to Christmas Eve, is perhaps the most delightful and unique Mexican tradition. Beginning December 16th, it commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Las Posadas are a series of nine charming children’s processions which are uniquely, genuinely and exclusively Mexican, seemingly invented by the early Spanish missionaries solely to comfort and convert the former Aztecs.

The tradition of the nine days of processions (Posadas) began soon after the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico.  Clever San Ignacio de Loyola created the custom to teach the story of the birth of Jesus and more importantly, to coincide with the nine day Fiestas of the Sun, which celebrated the virgin birth of the Aztec Sun god, Huitzilopchtli, from the 16th through the 24th of December.  Special permission was received from Rome to celebrate nine “Christmas Masses” to represent the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy.

Children in the villages will set out each evening from the church for a pilgrimage to a different neighborhood.  This procession symbolizes the journey made by Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Joseph’s search for shelter (Posada) at an Inn (also Posada).  The peregrinos (pilgrims) include Joseph leading Mary on a burro, an Angel, shepherds, kings, and a large flock of excited, giggling, jostling, bumping, wiggling, shiny-eyed others, most with bright ribbon and flower decked shepherds’ staffs which they tap in time to the music.

The verses of the traditional Posada song are exchanged back and forth between Joseph and the group outside each house and the Innkeeper and the group inside.  At each location, Joseph asks for entry, until finally at a prearranged location, the Innkeeper and friends sing from inside the shelter (house): “Enter holy pilgrims, receive this humble corner, that while we know it is a poor lodging, it is given as the gift of heart.”

And the party begins, with joyous music, piñatas, with candy, fruit, and treats for everyone.  Like the fiestas held by the ancients to honor Huitzilopochtli, the Mexican Posadas are full of the deepest of feeling; laughter mixed with deep spirituality, combined with the Mexican’s thirst for diversion from the daily sameness of survival.  This is truly a merrily religious celebration, and for most of the children, far more anticipated than Christmas itself. 
 

AKUMAL TOY DRIVE FOR “DIA DE LOS REYES MAGOS”

Like Christmas morning in the U.S., children wake up the morning of January 6th to find toys and gifts left by the Three Kings.  Día de los Reyes Magos, “Three Kings Day” or “Epiphany”, is the most special day of the year for children throughout Mexico, and historically portrays the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem bringing gifts to baby Jesus.  However, many children in the rural villages have never experienced the joy of receiving a toy from the Reyes Magos.  Help us change this!!

A small group of Akumal business owners, residents, home owners, and guests raised money last year and drove a carload of new toys out to the rural villages along the Tulum-Coba highway.  They put smiles on over 200 little faces on January 6th, 2006.  This past January 6th, vacationers brought a toy to donate, money was collected to buy toys, and over 500 children received a special gift from the Reyes Magos which they normally would not have, and WOW – look at all those beautiful smiles

When you vacation to the Riviera Maya this year, bring a small new or used, in good-condition, toy with you.  A toy car, a Barbie doll, crayons, a ball – anything.  We will keep this collection going all year long to give the Reyes Magos even more gifts to give next January 6th,, to more children, to as many villages as possible!

As you are planning your December (Christmas / New Year’s) vacation to Akumal, please think about bringing a small new or used, in good-condition, toy with you.  A toy car, a Barbie doll, crayons, a ball – anything – is very appropriate and would be greatly appreciated by the children in these small, rural villages.  The “Three Kings” will be visiting these villages on Día de los Reyes Magos again this holiday season (January 6, 2009).

We will keep this collection going all year long to provide the Reyes Magos even more gifts to give on January 6, 2010, to more children, in as many villages as possible, so toys are welcome throughout 2009."

THERE IS A DROP OFF BOX in the Akumal Real Estate Office located at the entrance of Akumal.  We thank you for your generosity!
 

HEKAB BE BIBLIOTECA CHRISTMAS FIESTA, DEC 20th

Hekab Be Biblioteca de Akumal, A.C. is having a Christmas Fiesta on Saturday, December 20th from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm.  Please, join Maggie and the kids for music, food, drink, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Maggies says, “We still need a few volunteers to help us out with the party.  Please contact Maggie at the library or via the Hekab  Be blog at http://hekabbe.blogspot.com or email us at akumallibrary@gmail.com  If  you want to bring a Christmas present for the local children see our wishlist blog at http://hbwishlist.blogspot.com/
 

WINTER SOLSTICE, DECEMBER 21st

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2008 at 6:04 AM AST and 12:04 AM UT (Universal Time).  In the Southern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice takes place on June 20, 2008 23:59 PM UT (Universal Time).

It marks the solstice—the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.  The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice.  Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, “sun” and -stitium, “a stoppage.”  Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 21, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn; the summer solstice occurs on either June 21 or 22, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Cancer.  In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter and summer solstices are reversed.
 

HANUKKAH, DECEMBER 21st

Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 21st.

Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” starts on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev and lasts for eight days and nights. In 2007 Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 4. With blessings, games, and festive foods, Hanukkah celebrates the triumphs—both religious and military—of ancient Jewish heroes.

Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year. In the United States, however, its closeness to Christmas has brought greater attention to Hanukkah and its gift-giving tradition.  Amid the ever-growing flood of Christmas advertising, it may seem especially fitting that the Hanukkah story tells of Jewish culture surviving in a non-Jewish world.

The Hanukkah Story
Nearly 2,200 years ago, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea—now Israel—were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah.  Although vastly outnumbered, religious Jews in the region took up arms to protect their community and their religion.  Led by Mattathias the Hasmonean, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, the rebel armies became known as the Maccabees.

After three years of fighting, in the year 3597, or about 165 B.C.E., the Maccabees victoriously reclaimed the temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah.  Next they prepared the temple for rededication—in Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication.”  In the temple they found only enough purified oil to kindle the temple light for a single day.  But miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days.

The Menorah
       The lighting of the menorah, known in Hebrew as the hanukiya, is the most important Hanukkah tradition.  A menorah is a candle stand with nine branches.  Usually eight candles—one for each day of Hanukkah—are of the same height, with a taller one in the middle, the shamash (“servant”), which is used to light the others.  Each evening of Hanukkah, one more candle is lit, with a special blessing.

The menorah symbolizes the burning light in the temple, as well as marking the eight days of the Hanukkah festival.  Some say it also celebrates the light of freedom won by the Maccabees for the Jewish people.
 

AKUMAL'S LIVE NATIVITY, DECEMBER 23rd

The Annual Akumal Christmas Candlelight Service will be held on Tuesday, December 23 at 6-7 PM on the Akumal Stage by the Peak Gym; start time is a punctual 6:00pm.  Once again, there will be an Advent Service with music performed by local singers in English and Spanish, as well as the world famous Live Nativity Scene.
 

 

CHRISTMAS, DECEMBER 25th

Christmas, or Christmas Day, is an annual holiday on December 25th that marks the traditional birth date of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs, many of which were influenced by ancient winter festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia.  Christmas traditions include the display of Nativity scenes and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Popular Christmas themes include the promotion of goodwill, giving, compassion, and quality family time.

In Western culture, where the holiday is characterized by the exchange of gifts among friends and family members, some of the gifts are attributed to a character called Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or St. Nikolaus, Sinterklaas, Joulupukki, Weihnachtsmann, Saint Basil and Father Frost).

Santa Claus is a variation of a Dutch folk tale based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who gave gifts on the eve of his feast day of December 6.  He became associated with Christmas in 19th century America, and was gradually renamed Santa Claus or Saint Nick.  In 1812, Washington Irving wrote of Saint Nicholas "riding over the tops of the trees, in that selfsame wagon, wherein he brings his yearly presents to children."  The connection between Santa Claus and Christmas was popularized by the 1822 poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, which depicted Santa driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer and distributing gifts to children.  The popular image of Santa Claus was created by the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902), who drew a new image annually, beginning in 1863.  By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the form we now recognize.  The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.

Father Christmas, who predates the Santa Claus character, was first recorded in the 15th century, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness.  In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa.  The French Pere Noel evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image.  In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana, is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany.  It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way.  Now, she brings gifts to all children.

The current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes.  This story is meant to be a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and modern day globalization, most notably the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sudtirol and Liechtenstein, the Christkind brings the presents.  The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsman (who is the German version of Santa Claus).  St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht.
 

SCIENTIFIC FACTS ON SANTA TO PONDER

In case you do not get those presents from Santa you were hoping for, here's something to consider.

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world.  However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15 percentage of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).  At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, and that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).  This works out to 967.7 visits per second.  This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.  This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second or 3,000 times the speed of sound.  For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.  Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself.  On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds.  Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them.  Santa would need 360,000 of them.  This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance; this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere.  The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each.  In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.  The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 MPS in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g's.  A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now; Bummer.

 Merry Christmas anyway.

 

KWANZAA, DECEMBER 26th

This celebration is not a festival originating in any of the 55 African countries, nor is it an "African" Christmas celebration.  Kwanzaa is an African-Americans celebration of life from 26 December to 1 January.

Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home.  Dr. Karenga created this festival for Afro-Americans as a response to the commercialism of Christmas.  In fact, one might say that Kwanzaa has similarities with Thanksgiving in the United States, or the Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria.  The word "kwanza" is a KiSwahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning "first."

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration.

 The seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili words: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).  Each of the seven candles signify the principles.  Like the Jewish Hannakah, candles are used to represent concepts of the holiday.

 The symbols of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor.  The mat (mkeka) lays the foundation for self- actualization.  The candle holder (kinara) reminds believers in the ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries.  Corn/maize (muhindi) signifies children and the hope associated in the younger generation.  Gifts (Zawadi) represent commitments of the parents for the children.  The unity cup (Kkimbe cha Umoja) is used to pour libations to the ancestors.  Finally, the seven candles (mishumaa saba) remind participants of the several principles and the colors in flags of African liberation movements; 3 red, 1 black, and 3 green.

Gifts are exchanged.  On December 31, participants celebrate with a banquet of food, often cuisine from various African countries.  Participants greet one another with "Habari gani", which is Kiswahili for, "How are you/ how's the news with you?"
 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

            Since The Akumalian has a very limited view on what is happening around town this month, there is nothing to report here.  However, The Staff expects there will be quite a bit of “catch up” in the January issue.

 

EVENTS

Robin’s November “Best Shirt Award”, was NOT the only recorded “Event”.  A number of “Events” between the October and November “Best Shirt Award” Events have been recorded and posted to The Akumalian Photo Gallery.

 See the following:

 Happy Hour Around Akumal

 Paul’s Birthday

 Halloween

 Election Night at Casa Romero

  

Return to  Top    Events

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]