ItÂs now officially 2012 - the year the Mayan calendar comes to a much anticipated end. ThereÂs worldwide buzz and considerable conjectureÂ What will really happen on December 21st? Here in Belize, the excitement is growing. This Mayan history and presence is notable in this small country. Unlike TV pundits, Belizeans don't expect the world to end. What they are planning is a series of unusual events, and initiatives, to celebrate this momentous year.
Belize is the heartland of the Mundo Maya. The Maya still make up about 12% of the population here. Â But at the peak of their civilization (the Classic Period of 250 A.D. to 1000 A.D.), more than 400,000 Mayans inhabited the area of Belize. It is assumed that as many as 1 million Maya lived in the Central American region at their peak.
To commemorate the significance of this year, the Committee is issuing special Belize Maya 2012 Passports. You can purchase a passport for $25 US. ItÂs a single pass that will allow you to visit any, or all of the archaeological sites in Belize during 2012. The passport will be stamped at each Mayan site you visit. ItÂs a wonderful keepsake to remember your journey into the mysterious world of the Maya.
The best known Mayan archeological site is Tikal, across the border in Guatemala. But Belize offers over 10 Mayan archeological sites worth exploring. Some are in the initial stages of exploration. The main archaeological sites are:Â Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Lamanai, Altun Ha, Caracol, Cerro Maya, El Pilar, Barton Creek Cave, Lubaantun, Santa Rita, Nohoch CheÂen, Serpon Sugar Mill, and Nim Li Punit.
2012 Calendar of Belize Maya Events
The National Maya Committee recently unveiled their Maya 2012 Calendar of Events. They are inviting everyone to experience the rich history and culture of the Maya people. Â (Click here for the Calendar of EventsÂ )
If you have any interest in Mayan history and culture, be sure to visit Belize in 2012. This is a special year and there will be a series of unusual events not offered at any other time. Here are a few examples of the special events that will take place in 2012:
- Maya Festival at Cahal Pech and Altun Ha
- La Ruta Maya Festival Â an annual event in which hundreds of canoe racers follow a river route that cuts through the heartland of the Mundo Maya. The race takes place over a four day period. Each night the canoe teams stop at a different town, along the river route the Maya followed hundreds of years agoÂ
- Maya Equinox and Solstice Celebrations Â a limited number of participants will be allowed to camp at the ancient Maya site of Caracol. They will awake to witness the sun rising over the structure of Caracol, for either the solstice or equinox. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
- The Costa Maya Festival Â this annual festival, held in San Pedro, celebrates the Mayan culture.
- Indigenous Music and Dance Festivals Â held in a variety of locations around the country.
The Mystery of the Mayan Calendar
There is much conjecture on how the Maya developed such an accurate calendar. ItÂs clear that they were an advanced society. They were recognized for their expertise as astronomers:
ÂThe Maya were among the most advanced astronomers of their time.Â They used monuments, buildings and wooden implements to make fixed lines of sight for observing celestial bodies. Â
Evidence has been found to confirm that they recorded the passage of the sun, moon, and Venus, and that they also measured the changing location of the Pleidaes. They predicted lunar eclipses and computed the length of a tropical year as 365.2420 days.Â
In reality, the Maya developed a series ofÂ complex calendars. Their calendars coordinated the significant movements of the sun, moon and planets.Â The Maya understood these inter-related cycles. They used these cycles to optimize agriculture. And their religious and political events were coordinated with dates of significant astronomical occurrences, such as the solstices.
There is considerable discussion and curiously about the Mayan Calendar and why it ends on December 21st, the Winter Solstice. Â In Belize, people assume that this date represents what the Maya believed to be a significant transition.Â ItÂs expected to be a period when the world transitions into a new era, of change and growth...
BelizeÂs 2012 Maya Tourism Plans
The Belize Tourism Board is planning for a major uptick in tourists visiting Belize during 2012. So if you want to experience one or more of these Âonce in a lifetimeÂ events, be sure to plan ahead.
If you would like to order a Â2012 Mayan CalendarÂ, you can purchase one from the Marco Gonzalez website. Just click here for more infoÂ This non-profit group is establishing a protected area for one of the Mayan archeological sites on Ambergris Caye. Â YouÂll find a prior blog entry describing the Marco Gonzales Site hereÂ Â
If you come to Belize in 2012, you wonÂt want to miss a trip to Ambergris Caye. WeÂll be offering Chill Weekends throughout the year. Or you can set up a free, private tour of Grand Baymen.Â For more info on the 2012 Chill Weekends, click hereÂ Â For more info about Grand Baymen, or to set up a private tour, click hereÂ