The Winter Solstice 2020 – Celebrating the Past, Present and Future With The Maya of Belize

The Winter Solstice 2020 marks a celestial event that has held special significance in Belize for thousands of years. And, as 2020 draws to a close, we think it’s important to once again focus on the themes of continuity and renewal that solstices represented to the ancient Maya.

2012 Solstice Celebration at Caracol Mayan City, Belize

Remember all those prophesies just before the Winter Solstice of 2012, when, based on an erroneous reading of the ancient Maya Long Count calendar, the media was filled with predictions that the world was coming to an end?

Mayan Long Count Calendar

There was even that blockbuster film, “2012”, that did much to further fear that the end was nigh. After all, the ancient Maya civilisation was right about so many things, and their Long Count Calendar was so accurate in predicting the motions of planets and celestial events so far into the future, that maybe they were right in predicting the end of the world.

Except the Maya never did predict that the world would end on 21 December 2012.

“El Castillo” pyramid at Xunantunich Mayan City towering out of the jungle.

You can read all about it in various sources, including our own blog posts from back then.

Briefly, the Maya Long Count did not end on 21.12 .2012, but simply, like the odometer on many cars when they hit 100,000 miles, rolled over to complete that cycle and begin a new one – in this case, a 5,125 year cycle marking the ending of the 13th Bak’tun and the beginning of a new cycle and era.

A stelae commemorating the 2012 Maya Winter Solstice

It’s a cycle hugely important to the Maya and their view of the cosmos, but hardly the end of the world. In fact, commemorating the Solstice is all about celebrating renewal.

So once again this year, there will be celebrations and observances at various ancient Maya sites throughout the Mundo Maya, as this region encompassing Belize and parts of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras is known.

lib Aztec Maya Ball Game pok a Tok Belize Players

At Tikal in Guatemala, Chichen Itza in Mexico, and at Caracol and Xunantunich here in Belize, and in many Maya villages, ancient observations and ceremonies are being held. They are necessarily more sedate and quieter this year, but you can rest assured that, after so many thousands of years, the solstices will continue to be observed and play an important role in the lives of many people and communities.

The main temple at Tikal Mayan City, Peten, Guatemala

Being surrounded by such a rich, fascinating culture, and being immersed in so much timeless, natural beauty, inspires people and offers a sense of optimism and confidence. There’s something comforting about a reconnection with nature and the past that keeps the present in perspective and helps us approach the future with confidence.

belize jungle resort chaa creek property aerial
The Lodge at Chaa Creek sits in the center of the western Mayan triangle

“This too shall pass.” So in that spirit, Mick, Lucy and the rest of the Fleming Family, along with the management and staff of Chaa Creek, want to once again wish everyone, and especially our many neighbors, friends and colleagues of Maya descent, a very respectful, meaningful, and optimistic Winter Solstice 2020.

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