Maya Summer Solstice Alive at Chaa Creek

The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize’s first eco resort and home of the Belize Natural History Centre, will be keeping thousands of years of local Maya culture and ritual alive when it hosts the 2012 Summer Solstice celebrations this week, marketing administrator Larry Waight said today.

“Chaa Creek is located in the centre of the Heartland of the Maya, and the Summer Solstice, which was a very important date, would have been celebrated at the ceremonial centres of nearby Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Caracol and in Guatemala at Tikal, as well as at the Maya temple of Tunichilen in the Chaa Creek nature reserve. So our celebrations on June 20 represent a continuum encompassing thousands of years,” Mr Waight said.

The Summer Solstice, also considered to be the first day of summer, falls on June 20 in the northern hemisphere, making it the longest day of the year. Conversely June 20 in the southern hemisphere is the winter solstice, with the shortest day of the year.

While many cultures mark and celebrate the solstices, the ancient Maya, the most accomplished astronomers of ancient time, pin pointed it and other celestial events with astounding accuracy and charted the positions of planets and other celestial bodies well into the future.

“They would have had a very good idea of what our sky will look like on the evening of June 20 2012,” Mr Waight said and added that while any summer solstice would have been important to the ancient Maya, all celestial events during 2012 would have taken on an added significance.

“This would have been the last summer solstice of that cycle of the Maya Long Count, an event thousands of years in the making, so we can be certain that the Maya celebrations would have been extra exuberant, and we want to capture the respect and the excitement that would have been shown right here at Chaa Creek,” he said.

Mr Waight said the day would be marked with traditional Maya feasting featuring food from the Maya Organic farm, and activities including a wide-ranging presentation by Chaa Creek’s resident Mayanist and Belizean anthropologist Joe Awe.

Mr Awe said he will discuss the summer solstice in context of the Maya cosmology, spiritual beliefs and social structure so as to present a comprehensive picture of ancient Maya civilization while explaining the significance of the summer solstice.

“It’s a great opportunity to talk about all aspects of the ancient Maya culture and if the last presentation was anything to go by, we expect a lively Q and A session and audience participation,” Mr Awe said, “It’s an event I personally, along with many Maya people in Belize and the region, have been looking forward to, especially as it leads up to the huge Winter Solstice of December 21, 2012, he said.

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