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December 2010  Issue 96

Return to Home Page   2009 Index  2010 Index

INTRODUCTION

Things picked up considerably in November, and the expectation is that December will be an extremely busy and active month as many “local snowbirds” return to Akumal for the last “Best Shirt” Award of 2010 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.

All things considered, this turns out to be a fairly long issue of The Akumalian.
 

MESSAGE FROM THE STAFF

This is the last issue of The Akumalian for 2010, barring any unexpected news that might prompt something later in the month.  You might also notice that The Akumalian is coming up on its 100th issue, scheduled for April 2011.  And, the 2010 hurricane season is officially behind us, and Akumal comes away with no ill effects.  The fat lady has sung.

The turtle season is also behind us, but The Staff had some exciting events with regards to the turtles, right on the beach in front of the offices at Casa Colibri in South Akumal.

Besides the usual holiday and sky “stuff”, The Staff wanted to try something different with this year-end issue, and you will find it at the end, just before EVENTS.  Let The Staff know what you think, and if you might have something to offer along these lines.

Do not forget to participate in the last Best Shirt Award of 2010 this Friday at the Lol Ha Beach Bar, and come prepared with your very best shirt, because there have been some serious challenges for this month’s coveted prize.  Bud Blatner is flying in from Philly the day before, and knowing Bud, he will have one of those very outrageous south Philly shirts.

Please be advised that The Staff was very busy this month updating and posting the Akumal Telephone Book by First Name, Last Name, House Name, and Location, but the Business section, while very important, is ever changing and hard to stay on top of.  If anybody has any good solid entries (or corrections to what is posted) please send them along.

The Staff also updated and posted Birthdays and Anniversaries, and this could use your perusal and updating.

The Staff is in the process of creating a second Photo Galley of People of Akumal II, because the original People of Akumal is a bit dated, long, and time consuming to load.  Look at the start and expansion of People of Akumal II, and please let The Staff know if your photo needs to be posted.  There also is another Gallery called Friends of Akumal.

The Akumalian's Staff held their Thanksgiving Dinner Party at Hechizo, and some pictures have been posted in the Hechizo Thanksgiving Party photo Gallery.

And, for additional information about Akumal and Puerto Aventuras, don’t forget to check out Sac-Be and the Pelican Press of Puerto Aventuras
 

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 and Anniversaries
2          Mark Miller
5          Joyce Hornor
5          Susan Gravlee
11        Phill Combs
14        Mike Brier
16        Dean Keegan
21        Diane Mahan
22        Beryl & Susanne Van Lierop, Anniversary
23        Kevin “Red Beard” McKee – THIS IS A BIGGIE
24        Laura Bush
25        Francys McCasland
30        Ritchie Fredette
31        Donny & Cheryl Hall, Anniversary

There must be more than this.  Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens.

 Missed Birthdays / Anniversary   
September 30  David Daniell birthday
October 31      Mike & Lynda Jochim Anniversary
November 6    Schatzi had a birthday
November 21  Wendell & Lynda Day Anniversary

HURRICANE SEASON ENDS WITH LITTLE BLUSTER

The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season ended Tuesday without a hurricane landing on Akumal’s shores, even though the season produced twice as many hurricanes (12) as a ‘normal’ season (6).  There were 5 major hurricanes, and 19 named storms, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

From August 21st, when the depression that became Hurricane Danielle formed, through September 26th, when the National Hurricane Center ceased advisories on both T.D. Matthew and Lisa, there was only a single 24-hour period during which we had no Atlantic depression, storm, or hurricane.  In this roughly five-week span, we had an entire season's average number of named storms (10) and hurricanes (6). 

There were four category 4 hurricanes, all within a 20-day period.  According to Colorado State University's Dr. Phil Klotzbach, that is the shortest time span for that to happen on record.  The previous record was a 24-day period in 1999.

For a brief time on Wed. Sep. 15, we had two category 4 hurricanes (Igor and Julia) at the same time in the Atlantic Basin.  That has only happened once before since 1900, on Sep. 16, 1926!

With the exception of storm-weary South Texas and northeast Mexico and a brush with Hurricane Earl in the Outer Banks and southeast New England, you'd have to say the majority of the U.S. has "dodged the bullet".

Akumal’s biggest threat was with Paula.  Hurricane Paula was the sixteenth named storm and the ninth hurricane of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.  Paula developed from an area of low pressure in the southwestern Caribbean Sea in early October. It slowly organized, and the National Hurricane Center declared it a tropical storm, giving it the name Paula on October 11 while located 105 miles (169 km) east-southeast of Isla Guanaja, Honduras.  
 

PROPERTY TAXES ARE DUE IN DECEMBER!!

Property taxes are due this month, and if paid in a timely manner, they are eligible for the 25% discount from Dec. 1 to 20.  The discount drops to 20% on Dec. 21 – Dec. 31, and in January it will be 15%..  .

 


 

CONSEJO DE DESARROLLO DE AKUMAL S.A.

There was a General Assembly meeting on Friday, November 19th.  The Akumalian Staff was unable to attend, but it has been reported that the meeting was very well attended.  PowerPoint presentations were used at this meeting, and they were very well received by the 30+ attendees.  Most, if not all, can be found on the Akumal Council web site

There was a presentation by the Tulum Hotel Association, and their slides are on the web site.  This presentation looks quite good, and maybe some of this will spill over and benefit Akumal.

Then there was a presentation on the Raccoon Relocation Program being carried out from Yal Ku to South Akumal.  This started on November 1 and ran for about a week, and according to the presentation/report that can be found on the Akumal Council’s web site, eleven raccoons were captured and relocated.  Stories at the Beach Bar that night reported the number to be 31!!  There are lots of photos in the report, so be sure to take a look at this.

The Security Program is going along just fine, and it is publishing its Monthly Reports on the Akumal Council’s web site on a regular basis.  Check these out too.

Look for the Report of the Committee on Education and Liaison too.

While not posted yet, the first General Meeting of 2011 should be in February.
 

United Nations Climate Change Conference Cancun  

The United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010, encompasses the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), as well as the thirty-third sessions of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the fifteenth session of the AWG-KP and thirteenth session of the AWG-LCA.

To discuss future commitments for industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol, the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) established a working group in December 2005 called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).  In Copenhagen, at its fifth session, the CMP requested the AWG-KP to deliver the results of its work for adoption by CMP 6 in Cancun.

The COP 16/CMP 6 will be held at the Moon Palace Hotel/Cancun Messe premise, located on the Cancun-Chetumal road.

Please be advised that security is very tight in and around Cancun, and all the way down to Playa del Carmen.  Reports of roadblocks and checks on every vehicle are abundant.  If you are going to the airport while this Conference is on, leave some extra time.
 

HANUKKAH, DECEMBER 1-9th  

Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 1st.

Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” starts on the 25th day of the Jewish calendar month of Kislev and lasts for eight days and nights. 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.
  

HST FLY OVER, DECEMBER 2ND    

On Thursday, December 2, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) will be flying right over Akumal once again.  The path will be WNW to SE, and it will be overhead at 6:32pm.  Graphic is for Thursday.

On Friday evening, the HST will be back, but in a slightly southern trajectory (look towards the south from Akumal) than Thursday.  Watch for it just as the Best Shirt Award Happy Hour is ending at 6:29 – 6:30pm. 
 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, DECEMBER 3rd  

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, Tom Baxter took top honors over a high stepping crowd of competitors.

The photos are located at November Best Shirt Award.
 

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 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.
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

The Akumalian is ‘on-site’ this year, personally recording some of the “comings and Goings” as they pass by.  Needless to say, things picked up towards the last week of the month for Thanksgiving, and the activity continues unabated as we head towards Christmas

 Comings:
·        
The snow birds are arriving
·        
The following arrived here for the Best Shirt Award in November:

o   Jaime & Jolanda Foshee

o   Steve & Sharon Wandler

o   Steve & Judy Holtz

o   Paul & Gayle Rasmussen

o   Lydia Pontius

o   Suzy Campbell and Patsy Tyler

o   Sage & Lyne Dorsey

o   Denise was visiting with Peggy

·         Sharne Hampton was back at Seven Seas in early November.
·        
Nance Walker was here too, having brought down some equipment for the Tulum fire dept.
·        
Gary & Oveta Vardell were in South Akumal in mid-November
·        
Cami & Richard Mazzola are back for the season, and the Gallery is open.
·        
Diane & David Daniell, arrived on Nov. 16 and leave on Dec 2
·        
Bill & Oteka Brab were in Casa San Francisco in S Akumal on November 18-27
·        
The Brab’s friends Rick and Theresa Weed, fellow Kentuckians, joined them on the 20th 
·        
Diana was here in mid-November.
·        
Tony, Joan, Cassie, and Alex Gonzalez were back for Thanksgiving.
·        
Steve & Kathleen Cole were back in Seven Seas for Thanksgiving.
·        
Phill & Lisa Combs were back in Tankah for Thanksgiving.
·        
Ashley Combs and her friend are in Tankah now.
·        
Kathy Sonheim Ferrell is back for an extended period, albeit without Jim.
·        
Phoebe is back in town, and her friend Carol was with her Thanksgiving week.
·        
Sam & Sharon Gobi are back in town for the transition into December.
·        
Didier Jackson arrived back in Akumal on November 27th.
·        
Bud Blatner returns on December 2nd, threatening to have THE BEST SHIRT for the 3rd
·        
Alice Blatner is scheduled to follow on December 16th
·        
Jim Ferrell is scheduled to arrive on or about December 20th.

 Goings:
·        
Kevin McKee is going home to celebrate his birthday and Christmas with mom.
·        
Mary Henderson and Gabriella Herbert are going to Izamal for one night, and staying in the Hotel Hacienda Sacnicte Watch for Mary’s report next month.
 

THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE DAY, DECEMBER 12th

December 12, the day of Virgin of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), is an official national holiday, observed with pilgrimages, processions, special masses, fiestas, and Indian dances in front of some churches.  In a sense, the Virgin of Guadalupe represents the essence of Mexico, the fusion of two cultures, Catholic Spain and indigenous Mexico.   
 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

            A lot is happening around town as we make the transition from Thanksgiving (late this year) to December and the year-end holidays and festivities.

 AKUMAL

 Ak-Nah Galeria Has Re-opened for the Season
Cami & Richard Mazzola report that they are back in town and the Ak- Nah Galeria is now OPEN.  This season they have screen-printed T-shirts of Richard's original baby turtle painting, new silver and inlaid turquoise Mayan mask pendants with an original glass bead gem from the shipwreck, "El Matancero".  They also have new Mayan masks carved of cedar by Chichen Itza artist, Samuel, and painted by Richard; and lots of new natural gemstone, one of a kind jewelry, by Cami.  

ISS Fly-Over
    This one just happened; we were not looking for it.  On Tuesday, November 16, The Staff was sitting down on the beach, when out of the NNW a steady light appeared moving across the sky towards the ESE.  The time was 5:40 – 5:43pm.  The sky was very clear, and this light was very bright and steady.  We debated ISS, HST, a plane, or just Santa Claus making a test run.  It seemed to move relatively slow for the ISS or HST, but then it was not right overhead.

            Once back in the office, a check on the web site for The Heavens Above web site confirmed that is was the ISS.

            Hope you might have been able to catch a glimpse of it too.  

Turtle Hatching at Casa Colibri in South Akumal
    Early in November, The Staff was sitting on the beach in front of Casa Colibri when one of the green turtle nests began to hatch.  At first, there was some hesitation as the early hatchling adjusted to the cool sand and air, but once they got over that, they just burst out of the sand and made for the water.  This was The Staff’s first hatching experience, and it was exciting, more so because we saw the turtle laying these eggs 65 days earlier.

 Turtle Hatching Count at Casa Colibri
      About mid-November, CEA personnel came to South Akumal to dig up the empty nests to collect and count the empty shells.  The first one they dug up was the one mentioned above, and while this was about 2 weeks after the hatching, they found two live baby turtles!  They counted 98 empty shells.

            There was another nest at Casa Colibri that hatched about a month before, and this nest revealed 109 empty shells.

            The photos are from this. The third nest hatched on Thanksgiving evening, November 25, while we were out to dinner.  On Friday, CEA came by to dig up the empty shells, and they found 54 empty shells, 21 un-hatched eggs, and one live baby turtle.  So, the three nests right in front of Casa Colibri resulted in 264 new baby turtles .

CEA reports that there were about 40,000 baby turtles hatched in Akumal this year, making it the best year by a long shot.

 

South Akumal Gets Recognized
   
Hey, hey, thanks to Gabriella Herbert, South Akumal now has SCT signs on MX307 to guide visitors to its hideaway.  There is one sign on the southbound lane (the 1st photo here), just past the first Bahia Principe entrance, opposite the entrance to South Akumal.

 

 

The other is in the northbound lane, just before the entrance to South Akumal.  Now, the renters can more easily locate their South Akumal villas.  Many kudos to Gabriella.

 

 

South Akumal Entrance Lights
      While the above is good news, be advised that the lights that were at the entrance to South Akumal are no longer operational.  It is a long story, but the bottom line is that Bahia Principe removed the electrical wires, apparently because the register boxes are on their land.  If you are really interested in the “rest of the story”, you need to ask Gabriella.  

TULUM

 Equipment for the Tulum Fire Department
  
Nance Walker reports on this.  “Thank you, but it really wasn't me.  Gabriella asked me last spring if I could see about doing something for the Tulum Municipality bomberos, as they had little to nothing in the way of paramedic or firefighting supplies.  Seeing it first-hand, I couldn't agree more!! Without the necessary supplies & equipment, those paramedic "ambulances" were little more than a vehicle to transport people to the hospital.

“My son, Mark, is a firefighter and Neonatal Flight Paramedic in Snowmass/ Aspen, Colorado.  It was that fire station that put a lot of this equipment together for me to take down.  Since last spring, Crayton & I have been working with Delta to see if they would be willing to donate the shipping costs as a "humanitarian effort" for Mexico.  Otherwise, it would have cost me $100.00/bag (I had 3 bags total,only fire & paramedic equipment!!).  They were willing to do so!

“I came down by myself this time, as this is a very busy time for Crayton to get away from work.  It was a bit problematic at Customs in Cancun airport, but with a $20.00 bill, they were willing to let me haul all this stuff in....whew!!  The January trip may be a bit harder, since that equipment is heavier as well as bulkier!!  Keep your fingers crossed!!”
  

CANCUN

The "Blue" Store
       Have you been in “The Blue Store” (that’s what we have called this place since it was first discovered, due to the color of the façade) recently?  The Staff was in there in early November, and it is bigger – there is a 3rd floor now – and more crowded than ever.  It is a great place for decorations (now for Christmas) and funky gifts, but it is so crowded it is almost impossible to get at any of the larger pieces.  It can be fun and challenging, and it can also be exasperating.  Give it a try the next time you are in Cancun.

            The real name is Galerias El Triunfo, and it is on Av. Coba, just past Blockbuster and Office Max.  Another reference is that is right in back of Actual, which is just past Sam’s Club and Walmart.  This place now has a web site at www.eltriunfo.com/mx

 CFE Windmill
      CFE has a windmill on the southbound side of MX307, about ½ mile south of the entrance to Moon Palace.  There’s no indication of where the electricity is going, but could this be the beginning of a series of wind farms along the Riviera Maya.  There’s enough wind along the cost to provide a lot of electricity, if the wind farms were extensive enough.  Wonder if they are also looking into solar panel farms out in the jungle.

 

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.
 

GEMINIDS METEOR SHOWER, DECEMBER 13 - 14th

This year is favorable for the Geminids, the year’s grand finale for meteor-watchers.  As a general rule, it’s either the Geminids or the August Perseids that give us the most prolific meteor display of the year.  Unlike many meteor showers, you can start watching for the Geminids around 9 to 10 p.m. – in years when the moon is out of the sky.  The waxing gibbous moon interferes during the evening hours this year, and doesn’t set till around midnight.  However, this shower tends to gain strength after midnight and to climax at roughly 2 o’clock in the morning, when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky.  So look for the Geminids to be at their best after moonset.

Geminid meteor maximums commonly rearch 50 or more meteors per hour.  And December is a glorious time of year to sprawl out on your reclining roof chair and to take in the twinkling stars.  Just be sure to bring along warm clothing, blankets or sleeping bags, and a bottle of wine. With the moon setting around midnight, the stage is set for a dark sky and a grand Geminid display between midnight and dawn December 14.  The best viewing of these often bright, medium-speed meteors should be from late night December 13 until dawn December 14.
 

POSADA, 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.
 

FULL MOON and LUNAR ECLIPSE, DECEMBER 21st

     The Full Cold Moon is on December 21st at 7:15 a.m. AST.  On occasion, this moon was also called the Moon before Yule.  December is also the month the winter cold fastens its grip.  Sometimes this moon is referred to as the Full Long Nights Moon by the Maya, and the term "Long Night" Moon is a very appropriate name, because the nights are now indeed long, and the Moon is above the horizon a long time.  This particular full moon makes its highest arc across the sky because it's diametrically opposite to the low Sun.  In fact, the moment of the Winter Solstice comes just over 15 hours after this full moon, at 6:38 p.m. EST.

Last, but certainly not least, this will also be the night of a Total Lunar Eclipse. North Americans will have a ringside seat for this event (totality will last 73-minutes) and, depending on your location, will take place either during the middle of the night or during the predawn hours. Observers in Western Europe and western Africa will see the opening stages of the eclipse before the Moon sets; South Americans will see the Moon set either during the total phase or as the Moon emerges from the shadow.  At mid-eclipse, the Moon will appear almost directly overhead for observers in southern California and Baja Mexico.
 

WINTER SOLSTICE, DECEMBER 21st

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), which is 5:38 pm AST.  This will be the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

The solstice marks 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 when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn; the summer solstice occurs when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Cancer.  In the Southern Hemisphere, the winter and summer solstices are reversed.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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 December 26 to January 1.

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?"
 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, DECEMBER 31st   

The Akumalian staff wishes you and yours a very Happy and Prosperous New Year, wherever you are.  Enjoy.

 

 

YOUR AKUMAL CROSSWORD PUZZLE

 

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ACROSS

4. Abbreviation for Water company
5. Central restaurant and beach bar
7. Capital of Q Roo
8. Place of the turtles
12. Pre-Columbian Maya city around two lakes
13. Turtle in Spanish
14. Abbreviation for Electricity company
16. Monthly Online Newsletter
17. Local environmental group
18. New Seven Wonder of World in Yucatan

DOWN

1. Why pay less store
2. The lagoon
3. Commercial Aquatic Theme Park
4. Large bulk-buying store in Cancun
6. Sea where Akumal is
9. Restaurant on Half Moon Bay
10. Supermarket chain in Cancun and Playa
11. Archeological site south of Akumal
13. Mexico's telephone company
15. Large Bay in North Akumal

 

EVENTS

Robin’s November Best Shirt Award”, was the only recorded “Event”.  

 

 

 

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