Friday, December 21, 2012


The Long Count calendar
on the east side of Stela C
The world might end today.  Or not.  But if it does end, that means I wasted a bunch of time writing this blog entry when I could have been taking a nap!

Anyway, the reason people think the world is going to end is because a cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar ends today.  The Mayans were some native people who lived in the Yucatan Peninsula and in Guatemala a long time ago.  Their civilization was very advanced, but then it slowly died out, probably because of climate change.

The Mayan people studied astronomy, and they had three kinds of calendars.  One of these was the Long Count calendar.  It was carved on the east side of Stela C in a place called Quirigua.  A stela is just a fancy word for a stone pillar, in case you were wondering.  This Long Count calendar shows when the last creation started, which was in 4 Ajaw 8 Cumku.  In our calendar, this would translate to about August 11, 3114 BCE.  The end of this 5125-year-long cycle is today, December 21, 2012.

There are people who say that numerical formulas and astronomical alignments will make the earth end in a horrible way, such as by getting sucked into a black hole or by colliding with a planet called Nibiru.  But scholars say "Humbug!" about these predictions.  According to a man named Mark Van Stone, who studies Mayan culture, "There is nothing in the Maya or Aztec or ancient Mesoamerican prophecy to suggest that they prophesied a sudden or major change of any sort in 2012.  The notion of a 'Great Cycle' coming to an end is completely a modern invention."

Actual Mayans themselves don't believe their calendar is saying that the world will end.  Santos Esteban is a wood carver who lives in the Mayan village of Yaxuna, and he says, "It's an era.  We are lucky to see how it ends.  Lots of people say it's the end of the word, but we don't believe that."  He also says that he is looking forward to the start of a new age.

But just to be on the safe side, more than 30 schools will be closed today in Michigan.  This might be more because of the killing of schoolchildren last week in Connecticut, though.  Lots of rumors of possible violence happening on December 21 are going around, so the superintendent of schools thought it would be better just to close the schools early for the holidays.

Meanwhile, other people are trying to make money off the idea that the world might be ending.  Vacation trips to visit ancient Mayan sites are popular.  Some of these trips are very expensive, but this doesn't matter because if the world ends, you won't need your money anymore.  For $79,000 per couple, you can go to the Rosewood Mayakoba and get "The Ultimate New Beginning" package.  This includes a spiritual cleansing with a Mayan shaman priest and a private helicopter ride to a tour of architectural sites led by an archeologist.

Some of the hotels in the U.S. are also offering special deals.  At The Keating in San Diego, you get a 40% discount if you pay for your room in advance beyond December 21.  This is a good deal if the world doesn't end, but you will lose money if it does.  Except that you won't need your money anymore if the world ends, like I mentioned before.

The Curtis Hotel in Denver offered "Party Like There's No To-Maya" for only $12,021.  If you bought this deal, you would get an entire floor of the hotel, plus doomsday supplies such as anti-radiation tablets, freeze-dried food and gas masks.  Also there would be a tattoo artist there to give you an ink souvenir of the end of the world.  Sadly, the hotel's director of marketing reported that this package did not sell.  But it did make good publicity for the hotel, so that's the important thing.

Okay, well, that is all I'm going to tell you about the end of the world because, like I said earlier, if the world has already ended by now, I have wasted my time writing this.  But if it hasn't ended, you will probably get to read another entry from me soon!

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