As New Year's Eve 2011 approaches, one haunting thought comes to many minds -- December 21, 2012. On this date, the Maya calendar comes to a halt; and many are predicting it will be the end of days.
The Maya Long Count calendar ends on 12/21/12, marking the end of a 5,126-year era. It began in 3114 B.C. This calendar has been able to calculate all of the eclipses, equinoxes and solstices since then.
The Maya civilization was known for its advanced knowledge in writing, mathematics and astronomy. The calendar was discontinued after the Spanish conquistadors colonized the region. It tracks over 5,000 years and then resets at zero.
Dec. 21, 2012, is a noteworthy day, even to those who do not believe in doomsday prophesies. This day marks the annual Winter Solstice. The sun and the Milky Way will appear to come into alignment.
Some even think 12/21/12 will bring a galactic alignment, an event that happens only once every 26,000 years. The History Channel has offered a comprehensive analysis on this particular belief. Some believe this galactic alignment may cause a gravitational effect between the sun and a super massive black hole, known as Sagittarius A, to wreak havoc on earth on the Winter Solstice in 2012.
There are countless Web sites dedicated to the numerous theories (and conspiracies) surrounding this date. Enter Maya calendar, end of the world 2012 or December 21, 2012 into Google and you will receive 100 million results. Literally, 100 million.
Hundreds of books and articles have been written on the topic, debating whether humanity will face a fiery apocalypse or merely a change in consciousness.
The convergence I see here is the apocalyptic expectations, if you will, along with the fact that the environment is in the front of many people's minds these days, Lynn Garrett, senior religion editor at Publishers Weekly told USA Today. Part of the appeal of these earth religions is that notion that we need to reconnect with the Earth in order to save ourselves.
The Maya civilization is not the only one to calculate 2012 as a notable year. In India, the guru Kalki Bhagavan has promoted this year as the deadline for human enlightenment. The Hopi of North America reportedly also believe a cataclysm is coming. Some liken Egyptian astronomical drawings of the 12 zodiacs plus a mysterious 13th zodiac, the Serpent Holder, for 2012. Doomsday prophecies can also be found in the Christian Bible in the Book of Revelation.
Many have cited recent unusual happenstances as confirmation of the end of the world nearing.
The first thing I do when I get up: check the U.S. Geological Survey website for earthquakes and volcanoes. Then I check the observatories. Then I check the space weather, said Lonny Sundvall, from Oregon, to the Huffington Post.
The seasons have been increasingly erratic. Migratory birds have been moving at lower altitudes. Deer have been behaving differently, he added.
Something is certainly going on with the birds.
It all started in January 2011, when more than 1,000 dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas. More dead birds were found in Kentucky. Millions of dead fish surfaced in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. More than 100 sardines, croaker and catfish washed up in Brazil. Thousands more birds fell from the sky in Italy. In October, 6,000 dead birds washed up onshore in Ontario, Canada. Dead birds, such as vultures, ravens and crows, are symbols of death in many cultures.
Then there are the natural disasters.
Earthquakes, tornados, blizzards, draughts, typhoons and hurricanes have all struck in 2011. I'm hoping for a break. I'm tired of working this hard. This is ridiculous, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who runs Weather Underground, a meteorology service that tracks strange and extreme weather, to The Huffington Post. I'm not used to seeing all these extremes all at once in one year.
The United States has been hit particularly hard. The magnitude-5.8 earthquake in Virginia in August, Hurricane Irene and the October blizzard that cost millions all proved to be quite harrowing on the nation.
Of course the U.S. is not alone. Japan, Brazil, Pakistan and Thailand are just a few other countries that have dealt with extreme and unorthodox weather.
Although some may note these events as eerie coincidences as we inch closer to 2012, others believe that the doomsdays hoopla is all for the money.
For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle, said Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Fla. To classify Dec. 21, 2012, as the apocalypse or any kind of cosmic shift, she said, is a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.
Is Dec. 21, 2012, is the end? We will just have to wait and see.