Happy New B’ak’tun!

And a blessed new Long Count to you and yours!

Phil Plait:

There is no suggestion, not even a hint, in Maya writing that they thought the end of this current b’ak’tun had any connection to doomsday. It’s entirely possible it may have even been thought of as a time of celebration (just like we celebrate New Year’s Eve).

The Maya also had bigger units of time, including the piktun (which was either 13 or 20 b’ak’tun), and the alautun, which was — get this — 63 million years! So it doesn’t sound like they were predicting the end of the world ever, let alone by this weekend.

Anyway, it hardly matters. Just like our calendar, theirs was based on cycles. At the end on a cycle, you reset all the current units and move the biggest one up a notch. It’s what we do on December 31: Reset to the first day of the first month, and increment the year by one. Happy New Year! Same thing with the Long Count. After the last day of the 13th b’ak’tun, they’d start over at the next one.

So even the very basis of all this fear-mongering is wrong. But why let facts get in the way of a good doomsday?


Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

The Telegraph:

David Morrison, an astronomer at Nasa, said: “At least once a week I get a message from a young person, as young as 11, who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday. I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumors on the internet to frighten children.”

Mayans themselves reject any notion that the world will end. Pedro Celestino Yac Noj, a Mayan sage, burned seeds and fruits to mark the end of the old calender at a ceremony in Cuba. He said: “The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn.”

Photo gallery:Predicting the end of the world — FAIL


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  • JayemGriffin

    And a blessed Yule to any other Pagans on this blog!

  • J_Enigma32

    What’s irked me more than anything about this, though, isn’t the doomsday prediction. That’s frustrated me to no end, though.

    No, it’s this who notion that the Maya were trying to predict anymore more than the start of a new year: “Why should we trust anyone who couldn’t predict their own destruction?”

    News flash. The Maya are still alive. They still have a language. They still live in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. Their culture is still around; they are, for all intents and purposes, a functioning culture.

    They went exactly nowhere.

    Of course, ALL native tribes get this treatment, from the Aztecs to the Crow and the Aleut, so it’s not just the Maya – the Maya just happened to be the “big thing” since 2000.

  • Genesis

    It’s obvious what happened.

    The Doctor saved us.

  •  He did it! He saved us! Thank you Doctor!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Happy Solstice!

  • ReverendRef

    Oh, I don’t know.  My town just got several inches of snow today (which it NEVER does) closing down the freeway and causing general havoc.  I had to cancel a meeting tonight because of it. 

    Kid Ref was supposed to fly home from college today for the Christmas break.  All flights out of her current town were cancelled due to high winds.  She’s now living in a motel for a few days until a rescheduled flight on Sunday.  Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I can’t go get her and risk being stuck on a freeway on Christmas Eve — I’m sort of expected to be there.

    So now we’re looking at having to fly her from the top of the state to the bottom, along with her Sri Lankan friend who’s coming home with her for Christmas.  Which means an extra large $$$ pop.

    So, yeah . . . I’m not so sure it’s the end of the world.

    But then again, this too shall pass.

    Happy Holidays to all the Slacktivites out there.

  • And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Left Behind books, it’s that the apocalypse will come in the form of travel inconveniences and impediments to phone use.

  •  That makes me mad. :-(

  • stardreamer42

    I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumors on the internet to frighten children.

    Exactly the same can be said of Millennialists of any stripe.

    Happy Solstice, everyone!

  • Kiba

    Happy Solstice! And thank you Doctor!

  • Cradicus

    Slide 9 of the “Predicting the End Fail” article is the first time in 6 years of reading the Left Behind Recaps on this site that I’ve seen Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Knowing what I do about the books, I instantly assumed that the one with the dyed hair was LaHaye. I was right.

  • Bah.  Here I was hoping that the planet Nemesis would come around and then I could take my ‘Black Fly’ space fighter to battle moon-snakes.  Stupid end of the world never happening when I’M ready.

  • AnonymousSam

    The day of the previous prediction for the Rapture, I actually dreamed of it (in great detail, to boot). I’m kind of hoping for something similar this evening.

    But hopefully not of Nibiru impacting the Earth or anything like that. I dream of that sort of scenario far too often. My subconscious is apparently quite morbid.

  • Will Hennessy

     Yeah, man, that’s messed up.

    Happy Apocalypse, everyone…or whatever.

    But for real, Happy Solstice! Cue the tape of George Harrison playing Here Comes the Sun (since for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it’s headed our way again)!

  • Turcano

    Well, apparently there have been no reports of Ryumyo bursting forth from Mt. Fuji.  I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

  • Will Hennessy

     I know, I was really looking forward to dying today. One way to get out of debt…

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sympathy hugs. I hope  they manage to get home safely and without too many more events. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    Hey, it’s only 2:43AM. The world still technically has ~22 hours to end. Don’t get disappointed yet!

    (That sounds horrible if you don’t read it with the proper joking context.)

  • Will Hennessy

    Well, fortunately I think many people here are among the initiated who are somewhat familiar on a base-level with sarcasm.

    Also, I wonder how today’s non event (pardon me, Solstice-observers. It is awesome that the Sun is now racing around the Tropic of Capricorn) will affect DVD sales of the 2012 film starring John Cusack. I had a friend buy it for me as a New Year’s present…

    Oh, that reminds me… anyone else planning on telling their kids that that movie is a dramatization of what we actually went through this year? At least until they figure out you’re full of crap?

  • Kiba

    Not quite the same thing but there is a giant Godzilla Christmas tree….

    When I told my Gram about it she got a gleam in her eye and said “We need to do that.” I love my Gram ^_^

  • Kiba
  • reynard61

    Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New B’ak’tun, prosperous Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hearth’s Warming Day, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year, and an all-around “Happy Holidays” just in case I missed any — and to piss off Billo and the shitheads at FauxNoise just because I can!

  • Dan Audy

    I have jury duty tomorrow so I was REALLY hoping for the whole apocalyse thing.

    Thanks for ruining everything.

  • christopher_y

    Hey, you missed “Io Sol Invicte!” Don’t mess with the legions!

  • ako

     I’ve only got another four-and-a-half hours in my time zone before I completely run out of apocalypse. 

  • Tricksterson

    You forgot Hannukah silly human.

  • Tricksterson

    Darn, I was hoping for volcanic eruptions and dragons.  Barring that I would have settled for the Antarctic ice shelf collapsing.  Phooey.

  • Happy Mayan Era! :D

    So far the Earth still seems to be plain old ordinary Earth. :D

  • Isabel C.

    Happy Yule! Welcome to the Sixth World!

    When do people start giving birth to elves and dwarves, now?

    (So glad I’ve passed puberty: no turning into an orc for me!)

  • Wednesday

    It’s a little different for the Mayans than other Native tribes in the Americas, I think, because of the information we get about them. I’m not saying it’s not a hella problematic erasure, but it comes about for somewhat different reasons than the erasures of some other Native groups.

    When I was a child the only Mayans I heard about were the Ancient Mayan Civilization that Ended For Reasons We Don’t Know, and left abandoned stone buildings of various sorts. I saw shows on PBS about it and also exhibits in museums. (Ditto the Easter Islanders.) I don’t recall these sources ever saying that a group of people who could be called Mayan still existed, and until adulthood I operated under the misunderstanding that the Maya were an ancient civilization that had completely disappeared, any survivors absorbed by other nations so long ago that calling them Mayans would be a purely genetic-ancestry descriptor rather than a cultural one. Whereas I knew the Crow and Lakota people all still existed as cultural groups.

    This wasn’t just a unique childhood misunderstanding — it’s part of how most people frame discussions of the ancient Mayan civilization in some parts of the US. I’m at a university, and recently one class created a series of posters around campus about ancient civilizations and what happened to them. Once again, the ancient Mayan civilization was called “the Mayans” and characterized as having vanished completely and utterly for unknown reasons.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    The coolest depiction I’ve ever seen of the New Baktun was in the Vertigo comic series “The Invisibles.”  In that comic, it began to snow on December 21st, 2012, but it quickly became evident that the snowflakes were actually tiny holes in reality that kept getting bigger and bigger until the entire page turned white.  Our entire universe was apparently an embryonic six-dimensional being that was in the process of being born into the Hypercontext.

  • Carstonio

    What if civilization had ended a few years before Y2K, and humans or alien visitors far in the future had recovered some of the surviving computer code? Would they conclude that our civilization expected the end of the world on December 31, 1999?

  •  Hannukah’s been over for a week! Wishing someone a happy Hannukah at this point makes about as much sense as wishing them a happy halloween. (And kinda has this icky sort of “I know nothing about your religion and your holidays, so I’m just going to wish you a happy jew-christmas” vibe)

  • All that happened was that Mayan Calendar Carving Company went out of business before they could issue the next edition …

  • VMink

    Don’t forget Merry Wintermas!

  • VMink

    Forget the flying cars, we were promised fireball-slinging elfin hackers in leather and mirrorshades… AND flying cars!

    Ah, Shadowrun… looking forward to the new iteration of the CRPG coming out soon. ^_^

  • christopher_y

    until adulthood I operated under the misunderstanding that the Maya were an ancient civilization that had completely disappeared

    An organisation I was a member of once received a letter in Maya, but I’ve no idea what it was about because none of us spoke a word of the language. We inferred that it was in Maya because it was mailed from Yucatan and it was certainly not in Spanish. I hope it wasn’t an important letter, because we couldn’t do anything with it.

  • ReverendRef

     That’s awesome!
    Can I give a Shiny Internet for best comment?

  • Launcifer

    Also the best time to tell a dying homeless man a story, don’t’cha know?

  • Michael Pullmann

    I thought it was Buffy.

    Ooh, maybe they teamed up…

  • Russell Geisthardt

    My favorite explanation for the whole thing was David Stuart’s (Maya expert) interview on NPR:
    “Humans like to come up with excuses, sometimes, just to freak out,”

  •  For my own part, I try to take it as a “I know that Hanukah is what Jews call this holiday season, so that’s the word I’ll use when talking to you” thing, which is kind of nice, and try not to get too annoyed at the implicit American-Christian presumption that December is a “holiday season” in the first place.

    I find there’s quite enough offensive shit out there, even if I work hard at interpreting borderline stuff charitably.

    Then again, I also try not to get annoyed when people assume my husband and I are brothers. It’s a personal choice; I don’t expect others to do the same.

  • The_L1985

     Right back at you, Jayem! :)

  • Kiba

    we were promised fireball-slinging elfin hackers in leather and mirrorshades

    Sold! Sign me up!

  • aunursa

    Chanukah ended Sunday evening.  This is Friday morning — 4 1/2 days later — not “a week.”  The original comment included wishes for Christmas (4 days early), Boxing Day (5 days), Kwanzaa (5 days),and the New Year (10 1/2 days.)

    I don’t understand taking offense over the idea of Chanukah greetings a few days late.

  • I am loving all the Shadowrun comments. I was making Shadowrun references all day at work and no one got them. :-/

  • VJBinCT

    Today is the first day of the next baktun of your life!

  • SkyknightXi

    @Greygelgoog:twitter : Huh. Didn’t know Metal Black was supposed to take place at the Baktun verge. {hopes there’s SOME supplemental material out there explaining just WHAT Omega Zone is/was}

    Anyway…I figured that the calendar crafters stopped at the Baktun verge because the Maya city-states were starting to fall prey to agricultural infrastructure collapse. The higher-ups figured that the verge was a good place to hold off while they dealt with higher-priority problems.

    Meanwhile, everybody keep your eyes peeled for Ambiguously Brown, light-haired Catholic priests who seem to have the ability to transfer memories, redirect gravity, and accelerate time…

  • MaryKaye

    It could be worse; around December 2011 our local newspaper got the idea that Ramadan is a December holiday.  Now, there are years when this would be a sort-of understandable mistake:  but in 2011 Ramadan was in *August*.