Chaa Creek prepares for Maya summer solstice

The ancient Maya’s reverence for the summer solstice would have taken on even great significance during their much anticipated year of 2012, a Mayanist at The Lodge at Chaa Creek said while announcing that the Belize eco resort is keeping this centuries-old tradition alive with a week of special activities centred on the Maya Summer Solstice celebration of 20 June 2012.

Belizean anthropologist and Chaa Creek’s resident Mayanist, Joe Awe, stressed that the event will be marked with all the exuberance and respect his ancestors would have displayed thousands of years ago when they first recorded 2012 as the completion of a 5200 year cosmic cycle.

“This is a very important date in the Maya cosmological calendar, and we’re determined that it will be observed at Chaa Creek in much the same way that our ancestors would have, with a spirit of reverence and awe, as acknowledging that all humankind is part of an endless and timeless whole.

“However, that doesn’t at all mean that it won’t be exuberant and fun – I’m sure that’s the way it would have been celebrated on these very grounds thousands of years ago,” he said.

Chaa Creek is located in Belize’s Heartland of the Maya, and its 365 acre private rainforest reserve is home to the ancient Maya temple of Tunichilen, where Mr Awe said an authentic, respectful celebration will take place.

“Since the vast majority of the Maya’s recorded history, philosophy and cosmology was destroyed during the Spanish invasion of the 16th century we know little of what actually was done to observe the summer solstice in Belize. However, we will use what we do know, and what was passed down through the oral history of the Maya people still living here, to reconstruct an authentic Maya celebration of the summer solstice,” Mr Awe said.

The Chaa Creek area was a densely populated, vibrant ancient Maya agricultural, trade and ceremonial centre. The present day Chaa Creek eco resort is built on the banks of the Macal River, a major trade route linking the highlands of what is now Guatemala with the Caribbean Sea and coastal trade routes extending north into Mexico and at least as far south as Panama.

Situated between the huge metropolises of Caracol in Belize and Tikal in neighbouring Guatemala, Chaa Creek was a thriving area with an agricultural base that supported the major urban centres.

“When you stand on the grounds of Tunichilen today, or at Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, El Pilar and the other local archaeological sites, you can almost feel the presence of the ancient Maya.

Considering that the population of Belize was much greater back then, and the fact that the two tallest buildings in Belize are still ancient Maya pyramids, that’s not very surprising.

“The land is almost exactly the same as it was back then, we eat pretty much the same foods, and in Belize’s Maya villages the culture and rituals live on. That’s why we feel it is so important to keep certain ancient Maya traditions alive,” Mr Awe said, and added that Chaa Creek was still taking bookings for the summer solstice week, as well as the grand Maya Winter Solstice on December 21.

He said that more information will be released in coming weeks as details were finalised, but that there will be special presentations, activities and celebrations to mark the June 20 event.

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