Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 21, 2012—Doomsday?

Most of the Doomsday talk about December 21, 2012, being the day the world will come to some sort of an apocalyptic end is related to a Mayan calendar from centuries ago. Over the years, the Mayan calendar end date has been misinterpreted as a prophecy of the earth's end not to mention that the end date was never specified as December 21st. The date in question as shown on the Mayan calendar is winter solstice in Northern hemisphere (summer solstice in Southern hemisphere) of 2012 which, for this year, happens to fall on December 21st but can occur anywhere on December 20 through December 23 depending on the year.

For those who are thinking that modern changes to the calendar such as converting from the Julian calendar to the current Gregorian calendar and adding a leap day every four years means the moment of doom would have already come and gone, you can set that notion aside since it's not the specific date of December 21st that's in question. The moment of truth is the moment of the solstice which is not determined by modern man's calendar.

The Mayan calendar actually consists of three calendars working together simultaneously. The Long Count calendar is divided into bak'tuns (144,000-day cycles) that began at the Maya creation date. The winter solstice of the year 2012 is the last day of the 13th bak'tun…the end date of that specific cycle of that calendar, not the end of the world. In addition to the Long Count calendar, there is the Tzolkin (divine calendar) and the Haab (civil calendar). Time goes in cycles in the Mayan calendars meaning that a specific number of days must occur before a new cycle can begin.

The current cycle of the Long Count calendar ends with this month's solstice, thus all the corresponding doomsday predictions. So, where is the calendar that picks up where the current one leaves off? One of the saddest events of Mayan history can be attributed to the Spanish explorers of the 16th century. In 1562, Spanish Inquisitor, Friar Diego de Landa, destroyed over 5000 Mayan artifacts carved in stone and made of clay and burned most of the written manuscripts. It was his attempt to force the Maya to abandon their pagan practices, thus losing all those valuable artifacts as part of history.

There are several current world-wide fears of Doomsday predictions, many connected to the specific means of our alleged demise.

Mayan Calendar: The Maya calendar is made up of different cycles of day counts but the calendar does not end this year. What ends is one cycle of 144,000 days (394 years) then the next cycle begins.

Mayan Prophecy: The ancient Maya did not predict the end of the world. Such Doomsday predictions were created by modern man. The Maya were gifted mathematicians and astronomers who made observations and charted future scientific occurrences based on those observations. They did not make prophecies.

Planet Nibiru: Nibiru is most likely the name of a minor god found in ancient Mesopotamia, not the name of a planet.

Rogue Planet Headed For Earth: Reports of this unknown planet colliding with Earth on December 21, 2012, have circulated for the last decade. IF such a thing existed, by now it would be the brightest object in the sky visible to everyone so that its existence couldn't be denied or hidden, astronomers would have been tracking it for years, and its gravitational pull would be distorting the orbits of other planets (especially Earth and Mars). None of these situations exist.

Planet Alignments: Another myth that this astronomical quirk would tear the Earth apart. There is an approximate lining up of the Earth and Sun with the center of our Galaxy in late December which is not unusual.

Pole Shift: The magnetic polarity changes every million years or so. A sudden change in the rotational axis has never happened and is not possible.

Increasing Disasters: The Earth is behaving normally in 2012 in spite of the fact that we're seeing more and more news stories about natural disasters. There has been an increase in extreme weather, including droughts and floods, partly due to global warming. Remember—the Earth is still a living planet going through cycles of change just as it has for over 4 billion years.

Solar Outbursts: The Sun's ongoing 11-year activity cycle is expected to peak in 2013 with its maximum strength predicted to be lower than average.

Of course, the final truth will be told when we wake up the morning of December 22 to find it's just another day. And for those who have been holding off on holiday plans just in case, you'll only have a couple of shopping days remaining until Christmas.

And for those of you who maxed out your credit cards thinking you didn't need to worry about paying them, those January bills will be in the mail before you know it!


Patrice Wilton said...

I'm a worrier, but I enjoyed this article and hope it gives me some peace. I love this crazy world of ours, and want our children and grandchildren to live to appreciate all the beauty too.
Thanks, Samantha!

Samantha Gentry said...

Patrice: You can't let worry over doomsday predictions on the winter solstice interfere with the holidays or your daily life. There always has been and always will be these type of predictions. Remember all the doomsday talk as we came up on the year 2000 and the new millenium? And here we still are! Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season.

Thanks for your comments.

Susan Macatee said...

Great article, Samantha! One guy I was talking to said, in essence, the same thing. That the Mayans just stopped writing their calendar. Gloom and doom predictions have been around for centuries. I think most people don't expect anything extraordinary to happen on the solstice. Even Nasa announced that the world is not ending anytime soon.

Harlie Reader said...

Great post Samantha. I'm still waiting for the predictions that were supposed to happen in 1999. The only thing that happened on 12/31/99 was that I meet from future husband.

I hope that the Mayans are wrong.


Samantha Gentry said...

Susan: The topic makes for some interesting conversation, but as NASA ain't gonna happen!

Thanks for stopping by.

Samantha Gentry said...

Marika: Wow...all the doom and gloom predictions for the year 2000 turned out really great for you!! Congratulations.

Thanks for commenting.