Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
December 2011 Issue 108
MESSAGE FROM THE STAFF
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 2011 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.
You HAVE to watch this video of the 2011 Hurricane Season in 4.5 Minutes as presented by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Open it up to full screen, so you can track the names of the hurricanes.
The last Best Shirt Award of 2011 is happening tomorrow - Friday December 2 - at the Lol Ha Beach Bar. Be there or be square.
Check out the “Events” at the very end of this issue.
IMPORTANT DECEMBER FACTS
Sagittarius - November 22 - December 21
Capricorn - December 22 - January 19
December Birthstone: Blue Topaz
Birthday Flower: Poinsettia
There must be more than this. Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens.
HURRICANE SEASON ENDS WITH LITTLE BLUSTER
Atlantic hurricane season ended Wednesday without a hurricane landing on
Akumal’s shores, even though we had a close call late in October.
The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season produced 18 named storms, as of mid-November, well above the average number of 10 named storms. The most glaring statistic - and perhaps most notable - is the fact that out of those 18 named storms only 6 went on to become hurricanes - that is close to average and well below the number of hurricanes from last year (12).
2011 will likely be remembered for the disastrous inland flooding unleashed by Hurricane Irene and the swirling and stubborn remnant moisture from Tropical Storm Lee. Although damage was inflicted upon various coastal communities including the Outer Banks, it's what happened AFTER landfall that proved to be the most destructive and costly.
Akumal’s biggest threat was with Rina. Rina developed from an area of organized, and the National Hurricane Center declared it a tropical storm, giving it the name Rina on October 11 while located 105 miles (169 km) east-southeast of Isla Guanaja, Honduras.
•Dates of hurricane activity: Oct. 23 - 28
•Peak Strength: 110 mph (Cat. 2); 966 mb
•Landfall: Just west of Cozumel (Oct. 27) as tropical storm
•Summary: Rina's bark ended up being much worse than its bite on Cancun & Cozumel, as strong wind shear ripped convection away from the circulation. Strengthened from a tropical depression to a hurricane in just 21 hours, one of the fastest such rates on record.
You HAVE to
watch this video of the
2011 Hurricane Season in 4.5 Minutes as presented by National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Open it up to full screen, so you
can track the names of the hurricanes.
PROPERTY TAXES ARE DUE IN DECEMBER!!
This has not been confirmed yet, just going on past years.
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 of the Akumal Council on Friday, November 11th. The Akumalian Staff was unable to attend, but it has been reported that the meeting was very well attended. The meeting was dedicated to CEA and its position with regards to its property, access to the beach, and bay management. By all accounts this was very well done by Paul Sanchez-Navarro.
The CEA Newsletter – November 2011 reported on this as well, and its article is presented here.
Akumal Bay Protection
As we have reported over the past few years, CEA is working to protect the bays of Akumal and we are working harder than ever to get the snorkel tours organized into an orderly program so that the sea turtles and coral can be protected while local businesses maintain their economy.
Finding a balance between these two objectives is not easy. The Akumal economy depends on a healthy marine environment, as well as a safe and clean beach area.
One advantage CEA has in promoting these objectives is that the organization owns the land on which its offices and dormitories sit. This allows us, within the legal framework, to control unauthorized businesses using our property to exploit the local habitat and species without respecting the laws.
We are currently making changes in property management that will allow us to reduce the illicit commercial activity while still allowing local people to have access to the beach. There is a growing number of irregular tour operators or individuals who bring snorkel tours to the main bay without obeying tourism, property and environmental laws. They do not have permits or licenses to operate; they do not carry insurance for their tours and their boat captains do not all have licenses. Along with the local hotels, dive shops and tour operators, CEA has developed a bay management program that will address the safety, protection and research issues related to making sure that Akumal becomes a sustainable destination. We are experiencing conflict with some of the illicit tour operators, but this is expected as there are currently more tours coming to the bay than what the bay can handle, especially if we are to protect the foraging juvenile and sub-adult Green turtles that are emblematic of Akumal. We will publish more information in our upcoming newsletters and on our Web site as the bay protection program evolves.
Most, if not all, can be found on the Akumal Council web site
not posted yet, the first General Meeting of 2012 should be in February.
ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, DECEMBER 2nd
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 goto print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, and they seem to be changing as we move into the high season.
November competition drew a huge number of very colorful and ambitious
contestants, and, as it turned out, Phill Combs took top honors over a high
stepping crowd of competitors. The photos are located at
November Best Shirt Award.
ART SHOW, DECEMBER 2nd & 3rd
Alcaraz and Eduardo Stein are having an Art Show on December 2 & 3, starting
at 6:00pm, in Casa Magna in North Akumal. Wine will be served.
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.
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 the December holidays.
FULL MOON, DECEMBER 10th
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.
THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE DAY, DECEMBER 12th
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Ak-Nah Galeria Has
Re-opened for the Season
The photo is from last year. The gallery is now on the ground floor, where the Peak Gym used to be.
Lol Ha Re-opens
Ixchel Boutique Has “Guerrero
& Heart’s Blood"
Speaking of Ixchel Boutique, be advised the Mary also has some dresses made by women form the Akumal pueblo. You should stop in an take a look at these hand made dresses.
Hui reports, “This year, we'll be closing on Sundays, so we'll be closed Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011 and then open all the way over the holiday season until Sunday, January 8, 2012. From January 8th onwards, we'll be open Mondays through Saturdays (closed Sundays) with seatings at 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm. We also have a website that will be debuting soon.”
Stefan has planned fixed price menus for Christmas (24th & 25th) and New Year’s Eve, and these can be viewed at Hechizo Holiday Menus.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN
City Express Hotel Opens
FLEA MARKET, DECEMBER 17th
Juan Antonio Huerta reports, “There will be a flea market on Saturday December 17th from 10 AM to 4 PM, at the Artist Alley next to the Cancha at Plaza Ukana.
making public the fan Facebook page for
Plaza Ukana to get the latest news and activities.”
WINTER SOLSTICE, DECEMBER 21st
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2011 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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 Ramas. Ramas 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.
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
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.
LIVE NATIVITY, DECEMBER 23rd
Akumal will be presenting the Live Nativity on the Akumal stage over by
Turtle Bay Café and La Cueva del Pescador. The date is Friday, December 23,
and the time is 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Besides the Live Nativity, the children
from Montessori school will sing.
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.
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.
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
Akumalian staff wishes you and yours a very Happy and Prosperous New
Year, wherever you are. Enjoy.
Robin’s November “Best Shirt Award”, was one of numerous recorded “Events” in November. Others included:
One Year Anniversary of Tequilaville (not recorded)
Ak-Nah Gallery Reception (not recorded)