It’s not the zombie apocalypse, but plenty of people have Armageddon booked for this weekend.
Thanks to a loose interpretation of the Mayan calendar and a healthy dose of Internet rumor, there’s a widespread belief that the world is going to end on Friday, Dec. 21. Historians, governments and even NASA have spoken out to dispute the rumor, but that’s not enough to stop some people from setting up bunkers and planning their Christmas dinners out of survival rations.
Where it started
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the people of Central America used the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar. The calendar was divided into time periods, the longest one of which was called a b’ak’tun. According to the Mayan Long Count, each world ends after the 13th b’ak’tun. The fourth world, the one the calendar says we’re in now, will have reached its 13th b’ak’tun on Dec. 21, 2012. At this point, the calendar resets like the odometer in a car.
Why the world’s probably not ending
Later scholars and scientists, however, have stated that no Mayan prophecies ever said that the current b’ak’tun ending meant the end of the world. In fact, there are inscriptions on Mayan temples that translate to dates far past 2012. Using the same math scholars use to work out all Long Count dates, the west panel on the Temple of Inscriptions in the ancient Mayan city of Palenque references Oct. 21, 4772.
The descendants of the Mayans themselves are saying the same thing. In a Dec. 12 article, the Associated Press quoted Jose Manrique Esquivel, a Mayan descendent, as saying, “For us, this is the ending of a great era and also the beginning of a new era. We renew our beliefs. We renew a host of things that surround us.”
It’s from this philosophy that the international movement Birth 2012 has sprung up. The movement, which is detailed on the website birth2012.com, hopes to inspire the world to start a new, more peaceful era. The only Utah celebration for the event will be a meditation circle held at Alta on Dec. 22.
The Bountiful Youth Council, on the other hand, is planning a party. They’re holding an “I Survived the End of the World Mayan Calendar Zombie Stomp” on Dec. 22 from 7-10 p.m. at the BJHS basketball court at the South Davis Recreation Center. Prizes will be given for the best zombie costume. Pizza and soda can be purchased for 50 cents each, but no outside food or drink is allowed. The recreation center is located at 550 N. 200 W. in Bountiful.
But if it did….
One theory about how the world will end focuses on Nibiru, a planet that is supposedly hiding behind the sun and will smash into Earth on Dec. 21. On nasa.gov, Griffith Observatory Director E.C. Krupp puts this particular idea to rest.
“There is no such planet, though it is often equated with Eris, a plutoid orbiting safely and permanently beyond Pluto,” he writes.
NASA also released a ScienceCasts video on YouTube disproving several potential Armageddon myths. It quotes Lika Guhathakurta, head of NASA’s Living With A Star program, to assure people that solar flares won’t get in the way of everyone enjoying Dec. 22. Though the sun is coming to the end of a solar cycle, she says, it’s the “wimpiest” cycle of the last 50 years.
“The sun has been flaring for billions of years, long before the Maya even existed,” the narrator quotes her as saying. “And it has never once destroyed the world.”
What would you do?
But what if the world really was going to end tomorrow? For Woods Cross resident James Keddington, his last day would be best spent snowboarding or skiing with his family.
“It’s our favorite family activity, and would get us out doing something we all love,” he said. “Whenever we go as a family, we forget the world and just have fun.”
Family would also be the focus for Bountiful resident Paul Summers, along with the holiday season.
“If I only had one more day to live. I’d gather my wife, children and grandchildren,” he said. “We’d sing Christmas carols and just love each other.”
For Farmington resident Cori Connors, the plans would be even simpler.
“If I had one day left, I’d move heaven and earth to be with the people I love,” she said. “Just be. That’s all. Presence is enough.”