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December 2012  Issue 120

Return to Home Page   2009 Index  2010 Index   2011 Index   2012 Index

MESSAGE FROM THE STAFF

The 2012 Hurricane Season and the $550 million PowerBall have passed us by, and The Staff is still here.

Things picked up considerably in November, and the Thanksgiving weekend was just chock-full of events; you really needed a scorecard to know where the next social event was to be.

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 2012 and the series of December holidays and festivities, including Christmas.  Unfortunately, as we go to press, many of the event committees have not reported in yet, so…..

It’s also a good time to return to Akumal to get a 20 percent discount on early payment of the property taxes.

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

Check out the “Events” at the very end of this issue. There was a lot going on in November, especially on Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Do not forget the other local publications, Sac-Be - The Costal Source for Travel in the Riviera Maya, the Pelican Free Press, and the CEA Newsletter
 

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
4          Jordan & Jacquelyn Dey
5          Joyce Hornor
5          Susan Gravlee
7          Jordan Dey
10        Gail Rowland
10        Ken Sutton
11        Phill Combs
12        Gayle Doebert
14        Mike Brier
16        Dean Keegan
19        Wendell Day
21        Diane Mahan
22        Beryl & Susanne Van Lierop, Anniversary
23        Kevin “Red Beard” McKee
24        Laura Bush
24        Karen Sutton
25        Francys McCasland
26        Bruce Eanet
30        Ann Kennedy
30        Ritchie Fredette
30        Eden Cost Knod to Jamie and Dani
31        Donny & Cheryl Hall, Anniversary 

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

 Missed NovemberBirthdays

            None that we are aware of.

HURRICANE SEASON ENDS WITH LITTLE BLUSTER

The official end of the hurricane season was on November 30, and here is a recap of the 2012 Hurricane Season. 

The 2012 season was another active one with 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 1 major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). From 1995 to 2011, the Atlantic has averaged 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

 This is only the seventh time in the 162 years of records that a season has had 19 or more named storms. What is even more interesting is that the last three years (2010, 2011 and now 2012) are among these top seven seasons.   Other seasons in the top seven most active are 2005, 1933, 1887 and 1995.

 Ernesto was the one felt in Akumal.  After forming east of the Lesser Antilles, Ernesto tracked quickly through the Windward Islands, producing wind gusts up to 63 mph and brief, heavy rainfall. 

 Ernesto "Quick Facts"

Dates: Aug. 1-10

Landfall(s):  Near Mahual, MX (Aug. 7); Near Coatzacoalcos, MX (Aug. 9)

Peak Intensity:  85 mph (Cat. 1 hurricane)

Lowest central pressure:  980 mb

 Ernesto, then, fought a battle against either dry air or wind shear in the eastern half of the Caribbean Sea, keeping its intensity in check as its center tracked well south of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispanola, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.

 Once reaching the western Caribbean Sea, less wind shear and dry air allowed Ernesto to strengthen to the second hurricane of the Atlantic season on August 7. 

 Ernesto made its first landfall along Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula near the town of Mahual, well south of Cozumel and Cancun late on August 7, with bands of rain but relatively low impacts for both Cozumel and Cancun.

 The circulation then tracked just offshore into the Bay of Campeche before making its second landfall near Coatzacoalcos on August 9.  This was about 100 miles southeast of Veracruz.   Given the rather limited time back over water, Ernesto was not able to regain hurricane status prior to this second landfall. 

 Ernesto was responsible for at least 6 deaths in Mexico, including three members of a family killed by a falling tree on their vehicle southwest of Veracruz.  Rainfall flooding was the most damaging aspect to Ernesto in southern Mexico.  But, in Akumal, Ernesto was devastating to the turtle nests.
 

PROPERTY TAXES ARE DUE IN DECEMBER!!

Property taxes are due this month, and if paid in a timely manner, they are eligible for the discount as described below.  The Municipality of Tulum has announced discounts for early payment of taxes - up to 25% off if you paid by the end of November. The discount schedule is:

·       25% discount: November 15-30, 2012.

·       20% discount: December 1-31, 2012.

·       15% discount: January 1-31, 2013.

·       10% discount: February 1-28, 2013.

 The official Spanish announcement has been roughly translated using various sources.

Tulum, Quintana Roo, November 2012

 Friend Taxpayer:

Our office has authorized the implementation of a property tax discount for owners and owners with a real estate trust.  This is dependent on the amount covered to be paid in one payment and cover the entire year of 2013.  And, taxpayers with different disabilities, pensioners, retirees, or people who have their INAPAN or INSEN credentials will be granted a discount of 50% in property tax of 2013, provided that they are current in their payments for the past five years.

These incentives are designed to provide taxpayers the opportunity to meet their tax obligations, so that the discounts will mean a benefit to your economy.  The funds raised are intended to drive responsible, orderly, and sustainable growth and development of our municipality through quality municipal coverage.

So Hilario Gutierrez, the Treasurer, makes a careful and cordial invitation to go to make the payment of 2013 property tax property within the months of November and December 2012, January and February 2013, with attractive discounts.

Such payment may be made on the following municipal treasury boxes:

·       In the Department of Revenue. (Avenue Tulum Ote. - Mz. 1, Lt 1, Center, ground floor of City Hall, Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 18:00 hrs. and Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00 hrs.)

·       In the Department of Urban Development and Ecology. (Street Ook-K'ot Mz. 130 Lt 1. Tulum Walker Square, near Bodega Aurrera Viemes Monday through 8:00 to 15:00 hrs.)

·       In the Directorate General of Public Security and Traffic. (Carretera Tulum Boca Paila _km. 1.5 of Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 22:00 hrs. and Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00 hrs.)

·       In the Registry Office of Akumal. (Avenida Gonzalo Guerrero Mz. 2 lot 10) with hours Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 11:00 hrs. and Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00 hrs.

·       In Bancomer, HSBC, and Scotiabank.

  NOTE:  The Registry Office of Akumal is in the Akumal pueblo, right beside the POLLOS ASADOS, about four doors up the hill – same side of the street – from Tequilaville.  If you are using your INAPAN or INSEN credentials, bring a copy.
 

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, DEC. 2nd 

Advent is a spiritual season of preparation before Christmas celebrated by many Christians.  In Western Christianity, the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.

Many Christians in the United States attend a church service on the first Sunday of Advent and may engage in activities such as special prayers and contributing to ideas on enhancing peace.  Many Advent traditions are observed in the United States in the prelude to Christmas Day.  For example, the Advent wreath is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.  The wreath can be seen in various churches across the nation around this time of the year.

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin's Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas.  Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed.  Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter.  Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent.  In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Advent traditions spread from Europe to the United States, especially the Advent calendar, which became very popular in the United States after World War II as American military personnel and their families who were stationed in Germany brought them home and made them a part of the pre-Christmas traditions.  Some people credit President Dwight Eisenhower with helping the tradition of the Advent calendar spread in the United States during the 1950s.

Advent calendars of all designs are also given as gifts at this time of the year.  The calendars feature openings in the form of windows or doors that are numbered to count the days to Christmas. Calendars may contain chocolates, toys, or candy and are given to children as a fun way to observe the Christmas countdown.  Some traditional Advent calendars show 24 days but many Advent calendars showing 25 days, with the last opening on Christmas Day.
 

DID YOU KNOW THAT . . .     

All items in '12 Days of Christmas' now top $107K

Add seven swans, six geese and five golden rings to the list of Christmas gifts that cost more than they did a year ago.

And if you get all 364 items repeated throughout ‘‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’’ carol, you'll pay 6.1 percent more this year, according to the so-called Christmas Price Index that PNC Wealth Management updates annually.

That comes to $107,300.

Thrifty shoppers may find some reasons for cheer. Six items mentioned in the song haven’t gone up in price: maids-a-milking, ladies dancing, lords-a-leaping, calling birds, turtle doves and the partridge. The eight maids-a-milking still cost just $58 because the minimum wage hasn’t risen.

Twelve drummers drumming ($2,775.50) and eleven pipers piping ($2,562) might also be considered relative bargains compared to seven swans, which will set you back $7,000. Nine ladies dancing will cost you $6,294.03.

The 2011 drought caused the prices of some birds to soar, partly because of corn and other feed costs.  ‘‘The geese were up 29.6 percent, and swans were up 11 percent,’’

The price of a pear tree is $189.99, an 11.8 percent jump from last year’s $169.99. Five gold rings jumped 16.3 percent this year, to $750, and three French hens are now $165, instead of $150.

 The $15 partridge is the cheapest item, and swans the most expensive, at $1,000 each.

Last-minute shoppers who turn to the Internet will pay a bit more for the gifts. Buying one set of the core items in each verse costs $24,431 in traditional stores this year, but $40,440 online. Part of that difference is the extra expense of shipping live birds, adding that Internet costs rose 1.5 percent compared to last year.
 

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.
 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, DEC. 7th

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, Dave Zucker took top honors over a high stepping crowd of competitors. The photos are located at November Best Shirt Award.
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

            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, New Year's Eve, and High Season.

Comings:
·      
The snow birds are arriving
·      
Steve & Judy Holz were back in Aventuras Akumal.
·      
Jim & Jackie Power returned to Jade Bay.
·      
Gail Rowland is back.
·      
Joel & Susan, the new owners of part of Casa Zama were back in town.
·      
Richard & Cami Mazzola are back for the season.
·      
Phobe Barrett has also returned from Colorado
·      
Patsy Tyler and Susy Campbell were back in The Reef Penthouse in mid-November.
·      
Donny & Cheryl Hall are back in town.
·      
Steve & Kathleen Cole have returned to Seven Seas in South Akumal.
·      
Mike Cook was spotted on Thanksgiving at Lol Ha with a huge table of family and friends.
·      
Tony, Joan, Cassi, and Alex Gonzalez were back for Thanksgiving week.
·      
Katie (Kids Klub) was back in town for a spell.
·      
Richard & Arlene Pargot have just arrived for the holiday season.
·      
Lydia & Mike Pontius are going to be here December 18 – 28.
     Michael & Lunda Schwartz are returning to S Akumal the 1st week of    Dec.

 Goings:

·        

VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE DAY, DEC. 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.
 

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, DEC 12 - 13th

 Where do you look to see December’s famous Geminid meteor shower?  In an open sky, because these meteors fly in many different directions and in front of numerous age-old constellations.  However, if you trace the paths of the Geminid meteors backward, they all appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini.  But you don’t need to know Gemini to see these meteors, for they streak all over the sky.

Castor nearly coinicides with the radiant point of the Geminid meteor shower.  Best nights: December 12 and 13, 2012.  In a moon-free sky, you could possibly see as many as 50 meteors per hour in the wee hours after midnight. Fortunately, the new moon guarantees dark skies for the peak nights of the December 2012 Geminid shower.  If the forecast holds, the Geminids will be falling most richly on the night of December 13, though the nights of December 12 and 14 should also be good.

Generally, the most Geminids fall the wee hours after midnight, from about 1 am to 3 am local time.  In other words, the morning of December 14 will probably be best for watching this year’s 2012 Geminid shower.  Hard to say how many meteors you’ll see in an inky black sky.
.

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.
 

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 are back in town and they opened Ak-Nah Galeria in early November.  It is over by the stage, where the Peak Gym used to be.

Natalie and the Foxes! 
On Friday, November 23, Natalie and her talented group from Playa del Carmen put on a great show of Blues and Rock at the Lol Ha Beach Bar North Palapa from 7:30 – 9:30

Lol Ha Re-opens
The Lol Ha Restaurant re-opens for the season on December 9th, and Loquitos Tacos opens on December 15th


Akumal Montessori School Christmas Posada
The Christmas Posada is scheduled for Saturday, December 15th at 6:00 p.m. at the school and is open to the community.  Come visit and see what it is all about!  The Akumal Montessori School located in the Pueblo of Akumal one block off the central road on Yalku, next door to the public elementary school.  The photo is from the tryouts.

BuyPlaya Purchases Akumal Real Estate
   
Rob Kinnon, Owner/Broker of BuyPlaya Real Estate in Playa del Carmen, reports, “I recently purchased Akumal Real Estate, so I will be doing a ton more promotion in Akumal.”

Unfortunately, The Staff has been unable to obtain any details about the acquisition and subsequent running of the office in Akumal; e.g. What will the name be?; Who is going to manage the office?; What happens to the existing clients?; etc., etc.

 

TULUM

Land Tax Discounts
            The discount schedule for paying Land Taxes is as follows:
·      
25% - November 15 – 30
·      
20% - December 1 – 31
·      
15% - January 1 – 31
·      
10% - February 1 - 28

Hechizo Opens
Stefan and Hui are planning to re-open Hechizo on December 13.   Stefan has planned fixed price menus for Christmas (24th & 25th) and New Year’s Eve, but the menus are not quite ready yet.

 

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Liverpool Is Open
     The new Liverpool on MX307 is now open for your Christmas shopping pleasure.
 

WINTER SOLSTICE, DECEMBER 21st

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2012 at 11:12pm UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), which is 4:12 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.
 

HANUKKAH, DECEMBER 8th – 16th  

Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 8th .

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.
 

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.
 

NO LIVE NATIVITY THIS YEAR 

Marcy Essy reports that there will be NO Live Nativity in 2012.  Sorry.
 

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 - January 1st

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?"
 

FULL MOON, DECEMBER 28th 

   The Full Cold Moon is on December 28th at 9:21 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. 
 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, DECEMBER 31st   

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

 

 

EVENTS

Robin’s November “Best Shirt Award”, was one of numerous recorded “Events” in November.  Others included:

Tequilaville 2 Year Anniversary, November 2nd

Tequilaville Art Show for Isabel, November 23

Tequilaville Fund Raiser for Ani Nicol, November 17

Ryan Wolfe & Natalie Blankenship Engagement Party, November 24

DONARTE Reception, November 24 (couldn't make it)

 

 

 

 

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