Who? The Maya – a Mesoamerican civilisation that can be traced back as far as 2,600BC – are renowned for their innovations in linguistics (they established the first fully developed written language of the Pre-Colombian Americas), mathematics, astronomy, art and architecture. But lately, they’re most widely associated with their notorious doomsday “prediction” – for 11:11:00am tomorrow.
What? This "prediction" is the result of an interpretation – one of many, it should be noted – of the Mayan Long Count calendar. This calendar was conceived at least 1,300 years ago when the Maya created an elaborate system of interlocking calendars of different lengths based on their observations of celestial cycles. Mayan priests (or day-keepers) then constructed a Long Count, of 5,125-years, from the calculated cycles, which they deduced to have begun on August 11, 3114 B.C. and saw to end on December 21, 2012. The dates were then etched into stone stelae and temple walls which are still being uncovered by archeologists to this day.
"In the French village of Bugarach, residents are preparing for a vast insurgence of doomsayers who have long believed its nearby mountain to be a refuge from apocalypic threat"
Why? While Mayanist experts widely reiterate that the calendar is cyclical, meaning that tomorrow is simply a new beginning rather than an end, there are also a number of "survivalists" and people frightened by rumours (spread chiefly online) who fear our time is truly up. In the US, sales of survival shelters and pods have reportedly soared, while in China around 500 members of a fringe Christian group were apparently arrested for fear mongering. Elsewhere, in the French village of Bugarach, residents are preparing for a vast insurgence of doomsayers who have long believed its nearby mountain to be a refuge from apocalypic threat (supposedly UFOs will appear to rescue mountain dwellers). The Bugarach mayor has had to make "an appeal to the world" not to inundate the small village, which is home to just 200 people. Equally, the Greek village of Sirince is hosting an increased number of tourists this weekend as some believe it to be in the vicinity of the Virgin Mary's ascension, meaning that it will provide them with holy protection.
Transversely, the tourist industry has seen a surge in annual holiday bookings for this time of year – with return flights well into the new year. As for us, we're taking our cue from author Roger Zelazny who famously said, “Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.”
Text by Daisy Woodward