Merry Christmas

Christmas. The very word brings images of men in red suits, festive decorations, and presents to mind. Christmas alone brings warmth, joy and cheer to millions of people throughout the world. But, as revered as the holiday is, how many people know of its origin. Aside from the birth of Jesus, how much do we really know about Christmas, and it’s story?

Long before the arrival of Jesus, Europeans had celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. People rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them. Finally they could look forward to longer days and a warmer sun. Late December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. During that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered to lower feasting feeding costs throughout the winter. For most farmers, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. Not only that, but most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

The first recorded date of Christmas was celebrated on December 25th, was in 336 AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that, the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December. However, there are many different traditions and theories as to why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. A very early Christian tradition said that, the day when Mary was told she would have a very special baby, Jesus, was on March 25th – and it’s still celebrated today on the 25th of March. Nine months after the 25th of March is the 25th of December! March 25th was also the day some early Christians thought the world had been made, and also the day that Jesus died, when he was an adult.

The date of March 25th was chosen because people had calculated that it was the day on which Jesus died as an adult and they thought that Jesus was born and also died on the same day of the year. There’s a strong and practical reason why Jesus might not have been born in the winter, but in the spring or the autumn! It can get very cold in the winter and it’s unlikely that the shepherds would have been keeping sheep out on the hills.

While some people also think that December 25th might have been chosen because the Winter Solstice and the ancient pagan Roman midwinter festivals, called ‘Saturnalia’ and ‘Dies Natalis Solis Invicti’ took place in December around this date – so it was a time when people already celebrated things. The Winter Solstice is the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. It happens on December 21st or 22nd. To pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming and they had a festival to celebrate it and worshipped the sun for winning over the darkness of winter.

Aside from the birth of Jesus, Christmas has been known to spark up other folk stories. Other tales of a fat rose colored cheek man dressed in all white. A man known as “Santa Claus”. St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. One of the most famous, and most original stories of how Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus goes as follows: There was a poor man who had three daughters. The man was so poor that he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married. One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas. Stories spread and eventually evolved to the ones we know now. The one where he sees you when you’re sleeping. And knows when you’re awake. The one where he knows if you’ve been bad or good. So it’s best to be good, for goodness sake.

Christmas is a celebration that has lived on for centuries. It encompasses all of what is meant to be good in the world. Happiness, joy, cheer, charity. It’s been a symbol of hope and of love. A day where we stop thinking about ourselves, and think about the people we care about. A time where we can fill a child’s eyes with happiness and wonder. A day where we as people can truly take in and experience the magic that this wonder filled holiday has to offer. From everyone at the 305. Merry Christmas. And a happy new year.

Written by: Vick Fonseca IG: Flying.graysons

Edited by: Javier Vasallo IG: @Pride55

Amigos For Kids

Amigos for Kids was created in 1991 with a simple purpose, to raise awareness of child abuse prevention and to help children and families in need. Amigos has created several avenues to reach these initiatives such as, the José Martí park after school program, which focuses on helping inner city children with scholastic assistance to which they have 100 children enrolled. Amigos strengthens families and communities by providing education to families on the philosophy of nurturing, to strengthen the bond between parent and child. Amigos has a plethora of programs that all have an array of benefits for families in the community.

One program in particular that stood out to the BV305 was the Amigos for Kids holiday toy drive. Christmas always makes most people want to give, wether it be gift giving or charitable donations. The ideology of the “Christmas spirit” changes people’s perspective, and encourages them to do what is taught to us as children, and that’s the simple act of sharing or giving. The holiday season brings people together, making them more aware, more courteous, and more joyful overall. When you think of Christmas, most people think of seeing the joy on a loved one’s face when you give them the perfect gift. The Amigos toy drive would give families, who otherwise would not be have the blessing to give, an opportunity to fulfill their Christmas

Unknown to the community, there are a staggering number of families who will go without Christmas all across the country this year, but in Miami, a good portion of those families will have a reason to celebrate through the combined efforts of Amigos for Kids and the Bearded Villains Miami chapter. Roughly three years ago, BV305 would attend their first event with Amigos for Kids with just a few members at that time, and would find themselves serving a purpose far greater than they imagined.

Early morning on Saturday, December 16th, the brothers from BV305 gathered in the parking lot waiting to be let into the building, so they can get to work. The sense of eagerness and excitement was thrumming throughout, and apparent in everyone’s faces. The Miami chapter bolsters over 40 members currently, and more than half of them attending, ready to change Christmas for every family they could. On one side of the room, volunteers and staff, and on the other, stood the brotherhood. When given the nod to get started, the villains jumped into action moving together and assisting like a fine tuned machine, accomplishing the task at hand of loading two trucks with toys way ahead of schedule. The day was filled with memories, laughter, some sweat and maybe even a tear or two. One thing is for sure, the Amigos for Kids and the Bearded Villains Miami Chapter will be making sure that families in their community do not miss out on the joys of Christmas.

Written by: John Banks IG: @bearded_superman

Edited By: Javier Vasallo IG: @Pride55

Happy Thanksgiving

Cold wind. Salt water splashing against your face. The temperature is dropping. And for several people around you, disease and the rough seas are beginning to get the best of them. It’s a 66 day long trip. A 1,584 hour long journey from Plymouth, England to the new world. The world of promise, of wonder. The

world where any man or woman can practice any religion, or own their own land. But oh, were those 66 days hard. Around you sails get filled with the winds of the life you’ve left behind, in hopes for something more.

That’s the perspective of one of the (widely known as) Pilgrims. The group of settlers that left England on the Mayflower to make anchor in the shores of what is now cape cod. (far more north than their expected target of the Hudson River). The winter came hard for those settlers. With most of the crew opting to stay on board the ship instead of exploring and settling the new world before them. Throughout that winter, out of the 103 passengers; half passed on by either disease, exposure or scurvy (yes, scurvy is a real thing).

When the spring New England sun rose for the first time that year, the remaining settlers made their way to shore. Upon arriving, a neighboring member of the Abenaki tribe greeted the settlers. That same native American introduced the settlers to Squanto. Squanto was a member of the Pawtucket tribe. He was kidnapped by an English sea captain. Sold off to slavery. Escaped his slavers. And had found safe return to his home land.

Squanto taught the now weak from malnutrition pilgrims the ways of the land. How grow crops, extract sap from trees, and catch catfish. As well as how to avoid poisonous plants. Among all these things he helped the pilgrims form an alliance with the local Wampanoag tribe.

After the pilgrims first successful harvest, governor William Bradford organized a meal that lasted three days and included the native tribe.

It wasn’t until 1863 where Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday (at the behest of writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”). Set to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. It was celebrated on the day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. So it has been ever since.

Thanksgiving was and is a time to gather around with the people you love. Give thanks to the things you have. Spend time as a group. And appreciate each other. So from our family to yours. Happy Thanksgiving from BV305.en two groups that plan on serving their community for a very long time.

Written by: Victor Fonseca

Edited by: Javier Vasallo

Boys and Girls Award

When it comes to community and charity, you would probably get the same answer from every BV chapter if you ask why they do it. “We don’t do what we do for recognition or rewards, we do it because we care about our community, we do it to inspire others to do the same.” The Bearded Villains as a whole, has grown tremendously in their charitable efforts. Teaching their communities about getting involved and giving forth.

On November 1st The Bearded Villains Miami Chapter were invited to a dinner and award ceremony put on by the Boys and Girls Club, for their work in the keys a few months before. (See blog entry Big Pine Key) The room was filled with lots of important people who have spent more than a lifetime aiding the children of south Florida. There was a genuine interest by all who were in attendance as to “who those bearded guys were”.

Countless awards for service were given out that night. Many people had earned acknowledgement from their staff and management. It wasn’t long before the BV305 was introduced, to receive their award for “distinguished service”. As they were called up to the front of the room, each brother looking around in a combination of surprise and pride, headed up to the front of the room to the applause of the crowd.

As the night carried on with dinner, drinks, speeches, and laughs, those in attendance seemed to gravitate to the BV305 side of the room to exchange praise and thanks. All had a genuine interest in meeting the guys, and learn a little more about what they represent. On this night, something happened that was bigger than any award possible, a bond was created between two groups that plan on serving their community for a very long time.

Written by: John Banks

Edited by: Javier Vasallo

Miami Night

When someone is showing their might, we often times think of feats of strength. In the Body Building world it may be lifting heavy, for powerlifting it may be in attaining a large total weight, CrossFit may be crushing a WOD, and in Strongman it could be winning a local competition. To Matt Kunkle, it represents something else. It is empowering yourself to achieve goals despite whatever your obstacle.

On November 4th, the “Miami Might” event was put on to showcase all these different lifting styles, for all walks of life and with one intention in mind. To bring a community of lifters together and give back to the city. As we all know, when it comes to their community, BV305 are first in line to make an impact.

The day was filled with electricity in the air that could not be denied. As you walked through Elite U, one could tell there was genuine excitement in the room. To be a part of something bigger than the best lift, or the highest total. Competitors were there to make an impact in the community they had become familiar with from other Miami Might events and local gyms. Miami Might showcased many different athletes that day, but there was a focus on two special groups, the Adaptive Athletes and the Special Needs lifters.

The showcase of strength and the ability to overcome adversity was absolutely breathtaking. The special athletes were probably the biggest draw amongst all of those present. Each lift performed by each athlete made the crowd roar louder and louder, surging further with each rep. During the transition of lifts, you could find people outside spectating the Battle Axe gyms incredible athletes putting on a show for the crowd, as they demonstrated different lifts and techniques for Strongman.

This day had everything, fun, family, friends, PRs and fails with everyone enjoying every moment. The highlight of the day, was the moment shared when Matt presented the award for best lifter from last years event, to the parents of Joey Vega, which from this point forward would be named after him, due to his unfortunate and untimely passing earlier this year. Joey had competed last year in Miami Might and instantly impacted Matt’s life forever. After a brief story about their interaction, a moment filled with laughs and some tears, it was clear why Matt made the choice to name this award after Joey.

The Bearded Villains Miami chapter didn’t just sponsor and donate to the event though, thats just to simple to fulfill their passion for the cause, they also threw some brothers to the wolves, by having entered both Jamo and Chiko into the competition. For these two brothers, charity and properly representing the club go hand in hand. Jamo took first in his weight class, while Chikos last minute availability, allowed him to enter, and was able to produce a very respectable total, with over 1100 pounds and setting two personal records. As the Bearded Villains of Miami grow their reputation for serving their community, they also look forward to growing their partnership with Matt Kunkle and the Miami Might movement.

Written By: John Banks

Edited By: Javi Vasallo

All Hallows’ Eve

It’s PM. A ghost, a vampire, and a zombie cheerleader approach your front porch. They’re hungry, and are coming specifically for you. Your front door pounds, outside you hear the howling of the crowd that gathers beyond. You approach the door, your hand reaches for the cool steel of the door knob. You turn it gently. The door swings open. “TRICK OR TREAT!”. They scream excitedly. It’s October 31st. It’s Halloween. Kids favorite holiday. But before it became the biggest day for costume and candy stores, Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve stood for something other than cavities and costumes with too little fabric.

Samhain was a festival, (celebrated by the Celtics in what is now Ireland) where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It marked the end of summer and of harvesting. It also signified the end of the year, and with the new year, the beginning of the dark, cold, frigid winter. A time of year that was often associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the line between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead became blurred. So, on the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain . A day was believed that the ghosts of the dead could return to earth.

By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. Gradually, it blended with the older Celtic rites and traditions. By 1000 A.D., the church would make November 1st “All Souls’ Day”, (to honor the dead). All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called all – hallows. The night before, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion began, was called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Around the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Before this, Halloween wasn’t popular in early America because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that were around.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers. Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. A tradition where children dress up in costume and travel from house to house, asking for candy or sometimes money, with the phrase , “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” implies a “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. Although the threat hast lost meaning over the years, the iconic phrase remains the same and widely recognized throughout the country.

Today, Halloween is celebrated as a day of joy. A day where you can dress up as anything you want with little to no judgement. Where the lights of reality dim, and creatures of all stories are welcome. Parties and festivals are organized to provide a creepy and scary element to remind everyone of the celebration that once based its origin around death and the end of year. So, as you bob for apples, scare your friends, and request treats and candies from strangers, remember the history of All Hallows’ Eve, and let’s all have a great time, be safe, and may the next year bring us prosperity and happiness.

Will Lift for Boobies

Cancer. An ugly word that just about everyone knows. One that strikes fear into the hearts of even the strongest and most fearless. Cancer, by definition is “the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”. The unfortunate truth about it is, that it is at times unavoidable, worse is that as of yet, there is no definitive cure. There have been many breakthroughs throughout the years however, and treatments that have been proven effective in lessoning, or even eliminating tumors completely do exist, but with a disclaimer attached which reads, “possibility of relapse”. There are hundreds of types of cancer recorded that can form on organs, muscles, or tissues, and as mentioned prior, can sprout from nothing. There have been many breakthroughs in medicine with respect to cancer, and one of the most acknowledged, has been breast cancer. A type of cancer that has become one of the most well-known due to the numbers that have been affected by this ailment. Statistics show that 1 out of every 8 women in the U.S, a staggering 12% will develop some form of cancer within her lifetime, and an estimated 2,470 are expected for men.

In the last decade, many awareness campaigns have been had for the sake of cancer research, in hopes to find more effective treatments, or possibly a cure. Diagnosis aside, the death toll has been dropped however the numbers still rain in unabashed. Recently, BV305 had the privilege of being invited to a local Miami event, to raise awareness, as well as funds for the fight against this ruthless disease. On Saturday, October 7th the bearded boys joined a few friends at Flex Appeal Gym for the event the “Will Lift For Boobies” event. It seems obvious enough as to why it was named so, but let’s elaborate. Two awesome ladies, and fitness advocates got together with an idea, and decided to combine a favored pastime, with a great cause. Tina and Katie Hosang (Mother and Daughter), Tina being a personal trainer, and Katie a fitness enthusiast, decided to exercise their motivational influence (pun intended), by bringing together other lifters, weight mongers and gym rats to one place for the sake of greatness.

In charity, one of the most important things to have is support, and what better way, than to have incentive provided by local businesses willing to give to the cause, as well as receive some recognition for their own goods and services. The ladies were grateful to welcome these thoughtful sponsors, and we’d like to give them credit for their donations. A special thanks to Intense Supplements, Hialeah Firefighter Benevolent, Gourmet to Go, TakeIt2DaGym, Mr. 25/8, Mr. Threads, Manuaktive, and lastly to Flex Appeal Gym, for providing the space to hold the event.

The event was promoted as a lifting event, hence “Will Lift For Boobies”, where the participants paid an entry fee, that allowed them to Dead Lift as much as they were able, for a chance at a prize. This being the main event, many came specifically for this, and found a few other interests along the way. Portions of the vendors proceeds were offered to the cause, so purchasing their goods was beneficial to all parties involved, raffles tickets were sold to offer more opportunities on a cool prize, baked goods to sate the sweet tooth, and what all fitness people need, headbands, towels and t-shirts.

Needless to say, the event was a success. Many faces came to participate in the lift, or to simply show support and donate some bucks. A total of $2,500.00 dollars was raised, and will be donated to Baptist Health Care, in hopes.

We are happy to say that we were able to attend and contribute to such an extraordinary cause. We all, not just BV305 but the whole of our population, surely know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. Whether they survived, or not, it is something we don’t soon forget. We would like to take this chance to commend Tina and Katie for their hard work, and the incredible effort they made in such a short amount of time. We hope these sacrifices you’ve made are paid back to you in great health and success.

Big Pine Key

Following the devastation to the Florida Keys due to Hurricane Irma, BV305 looked beyond themselves, and instead looked towards those in need. Having gone to the Keys to help in cleaning and rebuilding portions of the home of a family in need, they decided they couldn’t stop there. On their long drive to this home, they were struck with grief at the sight of the many who were affected by the storm. From toppled trees, to flooded homes, and leaky roofs, and in extreme cases, collapsed homes whose stilts and foundation gave in to the flurry of wave after wave, the amount of need was unlike anything they’ve witnessed before. The number of families left without resources was shocking, and something needed to be done. As they usually do, they took matters into their own hands.

Their campaign for the Keys began right after the storm struck, predicting the necessity of their neighbors. However, they redoubled their efforts after seeing the destruction and devastation first hand. The Bearded Villains of Miami worked hard to spread word and find help where it was offered. The donations and willingness was there in troves. People from all over the country, and even some overseas reached out to provide help monetarily, as well as sending certain good that would be most helpful. They arrived in Big Pine Key early Saturday, September 30th, and with the help of the Boys and Girls Club, as well as a team from Progressive, drove in with two trucks loaded to the ceiling with everything one could need in such a crisis.

They set up a tent off of Overseas Highway, the one road that goes directly down to Key West from Florida City, and began separating and organizing all they brought, to make available to the public. They had everything one could need, from clothing, to diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products, canned foods, to batteries, toiletries and an abundant of other products who many found difficult to acquire. One had simply to ask, and they were given what was needed. The elation on the faces of those poor souls being all the payment necessary. Best of all, the effort didn’t stop with that.

Others came to the aid of these humble Floridians in addition to those already present. An organization of Military Veterans called Vets to the Keys, joined forces with BV305. Bringing donations of their own, as well as abled bodies, and a plan to help those who needed more than just supplies. As mentioned before, the physical damage to the towns was devastating, and although many locals banded together to help one another, their time became scarce as life began to normalize and businesses resumed their operations, limiting their ability to continue helping their neighbor’s effectively. Those who were assisted were beyond words at the help. To think that so many selfless individuals would drive 2 to 3 hours to help strangers was overwhelming to them. But nonetheless, the help was accepted gleefully, and a great effort was made. More than 15 families were assisted that day, from something as simple as moving debris, to as laboring as chopping and removing trees, the brothers worked together to provide hope to these people.

In the coming months, there is hope to see the Florida Keys returned to its glory. The bearded brothers continue to push their efforts in that hope. Charity may start at home, but one cannot lose sight of their neighbors.

Written by: Javi Vasallo

IG: Pride55

Together We Rise

What is a brotherhood? What does it mean to be a part of a truly united group of men, whose simple association proves to be that of a family? If you were to ask any brother in the Bearded Villains, no matter the chapter, and ask them what they love most about being a villain, the over whelming answer would be “the brotherhood”. When Bearded Villains started on Instagram, its creator, Von Knox never would’ve dreamed it would grow to what it is today, a worldwide brotherhood on which you can be anywhere in the world and know, you can find a local chapter and have a group of brothers you can count on.

Bearded Villains has grown to become more than a shout-out page, more than sick shots of bad ass bros doing bad ass stuff. It has elevated itself into something far more profound, a symbol of hope. Every chapter of BV standing up for causes true to their hearts. From autism, to cancer awareness, to giving back to veterans, and everything in between. Bearded Villains has become the vigilantes of philanthropy, often finding themselves in positions where giving back to the community on their own, risked trouble with local law enforcement.

Recently, due to 3 major hurricanes, the focus of the brotherhood and their charity work has been refocused inwardly as chapters in Texas, Florida, and now Puerto Rico have been ravaged by the 3 different monstrous storms. With Texas being first to face the devastation of these natural disasters @grapesoda_mike, Captain of Coast Texas chapter had this to say about the outpouring of support from the brotherhood

“The Coast Texas area was recently devastated by Hurricane Harvey removing thousands from their homes and businesses. In the Houston area, they referred to it as a 1000 year flood and several small towns decimated. The spotlight was on us and the world reached out. Amongst the Bearded Villains alone, the outreach of supplies and donations was beyond what I could imagine. Due to this, several families have been able to receive support in getting back on their feet and more to come”.

As Texas was getting back on its feet, Florida was struck by Irma and again the brotherhood reacted immediately. Coastal Texas, being one of the first to reach out to the Miami chapter and support as well as the Swampside Villains.

Jimbo Captain of the Swampside Villains had this to say about their experience within the brotherhood

“So as the storm put a lot of people here in Florida out of power, we knew we had to do something, so we started trying to raise money to help the central Florida area. Two days into our fundraising, I got a text from Mike the captain of Bearded Villains Coastal Texas said he was going to send us a significant financial donation to help in are relief efforts. As soon as I read this text I was in shock. I have never met this guy personally, we’ve only spoken a couple times online. We often say Bearded Villains is a brotherhood, and in the truth, we are family and we are here to help each other. With the outpouring of support we were able to extend aid to our brothers in the Jacksonville chapter”

Again tragedy struck as Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, leaving it with no power, water, or supplies. The brotherhood again found its purpose to be steadfast as the different chapters are now working diligently to help with the relief efforts for the brothers and people of Puerto Rico. Some of the first to react were the chapters dealing with their own devastation, like the Florida and Texas chapters. You see, when it comes to a family bond, putting them before your own needs comes naturally, and that is the definition of Brothers helping brothers.

Written by: John Banks

IG: bearded_superman

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