2012 Phenomena: The End of the World As We Know It?

The Mayan calendar was used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

It was a remarkably complex and accurate calendar and provided a linear representation of days and events. So accurate was it that it was adopted by other nearby nations including the Toltec and the Aztecs.

Briefly explained, the calendar uses three separate systems of dating, the so-called Long Count calendar, which reprints the number of days since the begin of the Mayan era; the Tzolkin, or divine calendar; and the Haab, or civil calendar.

The Mayan civilization encompassed what are the modern-day Mexican states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche as well as what is now Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras, and northern El Salvador.

Although there is contention about it, the calendar itself is thought by many to end on December 21, 2012.

While many scholars believe that the calendar is cyclical, and that the Mayans would simply roll from 2012 back to a repeat of the first part of the calendar again, A single book by an anthropologist, Michael Coe, caused the interest which has come to be called "The 2012 Phenomenon."

Coe's book, "The Maya," suggested that the Mayans believed that the end of the long count calendar  was actually the end of the world. Doomsday. Armageddon.

The 2012 phenomenon is actually a New Age concept which combines this aspect of the Mayan calendar with biblical eschatological beliefs, numerology, and a little bit of astrology.

Mayanists, or scholars who specialize in Mayan culture, deny that the Mayans meant for their calendar to signal the end of the world or other cataclysmic event and have indignantly labeled such ideas as pseudoscience and misrepresentations of the Mayan history.

One mystical interpretation of the end of the calendar is that 2012 will be the year when the Earth and Earthlings begin to go through a spiritual transformation.

Another interpretation is that it is the year that the very world will literally end, and those who believe this interpretation espouse any of many opinions as to how that will come about, including the chances of a massive sun storm, an electromagnetic pulse, the biblical concept of Armageddon, or the Earth's colliding with an asteroid, meteor, comet, or with a planet which they label Planet X or Nibiru.

Solar Storm: The idea of the solar storm was likely based on the fact that the sun would reach its peak solar activity in 2012. Unfortunately, it was recently declared that an error in calculations had mistaken the year, and that it would actually reach its peak in 2013.

Eschatology: Though the holy books involved do not say anything about the year 2012, many adaptations of the 2012 phenomena have as components various eschatological beliefs.

Although it is far too big a topic to go into in this article, the eschatological theories include Jewish eschatology, which is concerned with the coming of the Jewish Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, and the afterlife. Much of this belief system has its origins in the biblical books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, among others.

The concept of Christian end times, which stem from the New Testament book of Revelation as well as the Old Testament books mentioned above, involves the Rapture, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Islamic eschatology is the Muslim teaching about the bodily resurrection of the dead, the judgement of the soul, and the rewards of heaven. Approximately a third of the Qur'an is regarding eschatological beliefs, details, and themes.

Geomagnetic Reversal: There is the theory that a geomagnetic reversal will occur this year. A geomagnetic reversal is a situation wherein the magnetic field of the Earth switches magnetic north and south. Although there are scientists who agree that the Earth is currently undergoing a reversal, but they explain that it is a very slow process, taking thousands of years to happen.

Nibiru: The existence of the planet Nibiru was first advanced in 1995 by the founder of a website called ZetaTalk. It is a bit of a puzzle how it got traction, but it did. Nancy claims to have been aboard a UFO and to be an alien contactee and who is able to receive messages via an implant in her brain which was implanted by aliens from a star system called Zeta Reticuli.

She said she was chosen to warn the Earth that Nibiru would collide with Earth, causing a pole shift which would cause mass extinctions of many animals and the near extinction of humans. The original year she warned about was 2003, but she later changed that date to 2010, and it is now supposed to occur in 2012 and has been woven into the scenario by many.

In closing, I will say that there are many scenarios for the end in 2012, and there are many scoffers of such a thing. It is, of course, up to you as to whether you will buy food in bulk in preparation for the end this year or perhaps rent the video of the John Cusack movie 2012.

My advice to you: Have a happy 2012!

Leapin' Lizards! It's That Kind of Year!

A leap year is a year in which one extra day is added to the calendar so that it is synchronized with the seasons. In other words, the earth does not orbit the sun in exactly 365 days. Other names for a leap year are a bissextile or an intercalary year. A year which is not a leap year is called a common year.

Although we generally think of a common year as 365 days, is actually 365.24190 days long. An extra day is added roughly every four years at the end of February, which is the shortest month in the year, giving February has 29 days instead of 28 days. In the Gregorian calendar, there is a leap year every year which is visible by four except for those years which are both divisible by 100 but not divisible by 400. So for example, the year 2000 is leap year while the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not.

Additionally, the small difference of 0.000125 days and up in a manner which causes every 8,000 years to lag approximately one full day. Logic would dictate that every 8,000 years, another additional day would be added, however by then, the vernal equinox will have changed by an unknown and unpredictable amount, so it is likely that no additional adjustment needs to be made. 

The leap year was first introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. In the year 10 BC however, it was discovered that the priests who were in charge of keeping the Julian calendar had been mistakenly adding leap years every three years rather than every four, and in order to correct this in error, there were no more leap years until the year 8 AD.

People who were born on February 29th are called “leaplings" or "leapers." Those people have the option of celebrating birthdays on either February 28 or on March 1.

In Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance," a pirate apprentice named Frederic signed a contract which counted his birthdays instead of the years he had been alive, and he ended up agreeing to serve the pirates until his 21st birthday, which meant until he was 84 years old.

It is perhaps a bit of irony that the day which was born in order to return order to the calendar is so frequently associated with the unnatural.

It is an old folklore that babies who are born on leap day are sickly or hard to raise. The origin of this wives tale is unknown. 

It has also been said that legumes which are planted during leap year "grow the wrong way," and in Scotland the say that “leap year was never a good sheep year.”

Then there is the tradition whereupon women were granted the privilege of proposing marriage to men rather than the other way around during a leap year or specifically on leap day, depending upon the culture.

This tradition which is said to have inspired the tradition took place in 5th century Ireland with an incident which occurred, legend has it, between St. Brigid of Kildare and St. Patrick. Brigid supposedly complained about the fact that women couldn't propose to men. After some back and forth, Patrick allowed that women could do so every four years on the leap year. 


Again according to legend, Brigid proposed to Patrick, and he declined. Instead, he gave her a silk gown and a kiss.

During the Middle Ages, when the tradition became popular, it is said that Queen Margaret of Scotland decreed that if a man refused such a proposal must provide the woman with a silk gown and a kiss in compensation. In Denmark, the penalty was twelve pairs of gloves, and in Finland, it was enough fabric to make a new skirt.

In order to allow men the chance to escape such a situation, the woman was required wear a red petticoat showing beneath the hem of her dress in order to "warn" the object of her affection.

In Greece, however, no such law or tradition exists, given the fact that there is a superstition in the country which says that it is bad luck to marry during a leap year, and only one out of five Greeks dare to tempt fate by doing such a thing.

Whether you're planting beans and peas; whether you're wearing a red petticoat, or running from a woman wearing one; or whether you're a Greek who is running even faster from one, enjoy the extra day this February, on Wednesday, the 29th.