Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Belize Kicks Off Maya 2012 Celebrations with New Museum Exhibit

Belize City, Belize – May, 2011
(Press Release)

As the official kick-off for Maya 2012 celebrations in Belize, the Belizean community is embracing a new worldly era by reflecting on the past at the Museum of Belize in Belize City. Providing a deeply enchanting and personal look at the Mayas’ work in creating famous Belizean jade masterpieces, “The People Who Carved Jades and Their Descendants” is an exhibit that was revealed in April in order to provide visitors with a deeper connection with Belize’s Maya culture, as people look to uncover the truth about the end of the 2012 calendar.

As the first of many celebrations planned for when the world starts anew on December 21, 2012, this exhibit serves as a bridge between ancient times and the future, and sets the tone for a full line-up of Maya-related events, tours, activities and festivals in Belize, scheduled throughout 2011 and 2012.

“Jade signified life to the Mayas, and we are proud to commence our countdown to the world’s rebirth in conjunction with this renowned exhibit,” said Seleni Matus, director of tourism for the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). “The Long Count Calendar fascinates people from all over the world, and we look forward to unveiling the calendar’s true meaning and the Mayas’ mysteries to all visiting scientists, academics and visitors.”

“The People Who Carved Jades and Their Descendants,” which is sponsored by National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) in conjunction with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), builds on and personalizes the already successful “Jades of Belize” exhibit by highlighting the Mayas who crafted extraordinary jade objects thousands of years ago.

As the epicenter of Maya culture during the Classic Period, Belize has retained its vibrant Maya community and strong influence throughout time, along with an array of ancient Maya temples, artifacts and more. Information on all of Belize’s most notable Maya sites can be found on the country’s official travel website, but examples include Altun Ha, which is just north of Belize City and is where the largest carved jade object in the entire Maya area – a Jade Head – was originally discovered. Lubaantun in Punta Gorda is a site rumored to be the place where Anna Mitchell-Hedges found the famous Crystal Skull, in 1926. And temples at Lamanai in northern Belize were occupied continuously for over 3,000 years, and are surrounded by a lush and beautiful jungle.

Highlights of upcoming Maya 2012 celebrations planned for 2011 include the 5th Annual Toledo Cacao Festival (scheduled from May 20-22), which celebrates the growth of Belize’s cacao industry since Mayas first discovered chocolate in 1000 B.C., while also showcasing the various ways that the Maya utilized the cacao bean, including ceremonial purposes, food and beverage. In June, Belize will hold the Lamanai Challenge, a triathlon featuring running, cycling, and canoeing, in which participates finish by way of canoe at the New River Lagoon at the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve.

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