I'm sure you have heard about December 21st, 2012. Most of us know it has something to do with the Mayan Calendar. Who discovered it? Will the world end on that day? Will we go through some galactic change? Does our planet align with other planets and float through the center of the Milky way?

In 2008, a poll revealed that 16 percent of Americans answered "yes" when asked if they "truly believed an apocalyptic event would occur" on the famed date.

Let's look at a few of the facts before we buy a truck load of furniture with no payments until 2013, shall we?

It is important to note that December 21, 2012 is not a date in the Mayan Calendar. The Mayan date to which December 21, 2012 refers is often notated as in the Mayan Long Count calendar. Anyone who says that the Mayan Calendar end date means that it is the end of the world is using pure speculation.

So, why then this date getting more attention as the day draws near? If you Google "2012" with "disaster" or "doomsday" you'll find nearly 3 million websites dedicated to scaring your little survival pants off.

Let's look the origin of this thing. The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.

Mayan Temple
Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images


Was the warning of earth's demise included in this Mayan Calendar? Fueling the hype is the fact that Decemeber 21, 2012 falls on the winter solstice and marks the first time in 26,000 years that the galactic alignment of the sun and the earth with the center of the Milky Way will occur. Many believe this crossing of the galactic equator could cause the earth's poles to shift, which would be a really bad thing.

Since recorded history only goes back about 6,000 years, we have no idea what happened the last time earth just "played through" the center of the galaxy.

So, who were the Mayans? Did they really have some ancient insight into the future? Here's a few few things we do know:

  • The Mayans occupied Mesoamerica, which today is the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Some of the ruins still remain.
  • In 700 A.D. they were 50,000 strong, great warriors, and had over 3,000 buildings. Then, they just simply vanished.
  • They were obsessed with time and calendars, painstakingly charting cycles of the moon, sun, stars, and Venus. And they actually had uncanny accuracy. They did it without the help of computers, telescopes, or calculators.
  • Windows were carefully placed in their homes so that the sun would shine on certain objects at a precise time of the day.

Without telescopes or any other apparatus, Mayan astronomers calculated the length of a lunar month to be 29.53059 days. Overall, the 2,000 year old Mayan calendar is believed to be more accurate than the 500 year old Gregorian calendar we use today"  - Lawrence Joseph, historian.

Just this week NASA released a statement: "The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012." Whew!

PLanets I Line
Photo by ESO via Getty Images

In Sioux Falls, we don't hear as much about December 21st, 2012 as most places. Maybe we're just a little more sensible, down-to-earth, and a little more skeptical about the end-of-world predictions. After all, Y2K was a giant fizzle, right?

We have learned that many Sioux Falls night clubs are hosting "end of the world" parties on December 21st. Well, at least it's a Friday night. Just, please, don't act like it's the last night on the planet. That could get ugly.

Me? I prefer to rely on Matthew 24:36 which says:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."

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