On Wednesday March 21st was the spring equinox in the final year of the current cycle of the Maya long count calendar, which ends on December 21, 2012.
To commemorate the ending of the 13th Baktun, as it is called, the Institute of Archaeology hosted a night of camping, cultural presentations and history at the ancient Mayan city-state of Caracol in the Cayo District.
It's one of four such events planned this year and the overnight archaeological camping adventures are timed to coincide with this year's equinoxes and solstices.
It's all part of Belize's 2012 Cultural Tourism package provocatively themed, "Where Will You Be When The World Begins Anew?"
Dr. Jaime Awe says that observing the equinoxes and solstices are a part of the Mayan Calendar Cycle:
Dr Jaime Awe - Belize Institute of Archaeology
"One of those ideas of mine was why not celebrate the solstice and the equinox up at one of the archaeological sites, and the reason for that is that 2012 is all about the end of a cycle, and the start of another, and so the solstices and equinox are cycles of time. By doing this event here, I felt that it was going to be unique, special, and authentic. And then, to combine the native priests doing their ceremonies in the morning, for me, the number one purpose of this is to make not just Belizeans, but they world become aware of Belize's Maya heritage. And I think that I may have said to you before that I think this heritage belongs to the people of the world, not just for Belizeans. I feel privileged that we in Belize are custodians of this human past, and it's a great past. The Maya developed this civilization that equal to all the great civilizations of the world, and so for me it's bringing that awareness, not just to Belize, to everybody. All our information about 2012 indicated that it was going to be the end of this great cycle, very much like the year 2000, which you know, we did a lot of 'hoopla' about it. You remember, you know - people saying that the computers are going to crash, and this going to happen, get your money out of the banks. And at the end what happened was that we ended this millennia and started the next one. And so, I said, 'Guess what, to the Maya the world was going to, it was going to be the end of this cycle, and then, it would start again.'"
About 60 persons took part. The next event is planned for the summer solstice on June 21st.
Maya Winter Solstice Package
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Channel 7 Belize News and Dr. Jaime Awe and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributed to The Lodge at Chaa Creek.