The World Did Not End—No Mayan Doomsday (Yay?)
It ended up being much ado about nothing, and the ones most likely to benefit? The Mayans — well-played, Mayans. Well-played.
OK, Dec. 21, 2012 is nearly over and if you’re reading this, you already are aware the world has not ended. Certainly it’s chilly outside, we survived Thursday’s snow, there’s still Christmas shopping and wrapping to be done. If this were a movie, we could call it Apocalypse How?
In short, it was the worst Armageddon, ever — well, except when the real one comes. That probably would be worse.
But today there were no alien attacks, nor was there a sudden sudden spike in UFO sightings. There were no new wars or rumors of war, no earthquakes, no avalanches, no tsunamis, no four horsemen of the apocalyptic sort, as some biblical eschatologists would predict. Also missing: Giant asteroids or planets on an interstellar collision course with Earth.
So confident were the doomsday naysayers that snarky memes started popping up all over the place on social networks right after midnight on Friday morning. New ones continued to pop up on Facebook throughout the day. Probably one of the funniest was a grumpy cat photo that has become all kinds of meme fodder in recent weeks. “STILL HERE,” it states at the top, and below: “WORST APOCALYPSE EVER.”
Another, a beautiful photo of the temple of Kukulcan, also called El Castillo at Chichen-Itza, shows the date “12.21.12” at the top, and below, “MAYAN APRIL FOOLS DAY.”
Yes, as a doomsday, Friday was an apocalyptic fail, as it were, particularly for those who believed the predictions that the day’s date, which marks the end of baktun, a 5,125-day cycle on the Mayan calendar, also signaled the end of the world. The idea seemed to entrench itself in areas scattered around the world.
Interestingly, Mayan scholars over the past year or so have been refuting the world-end hoopla, saying the end of the Mayan calendar cycle simply means the start of a new cycle. Maya scholar Marcello Canuto told CBS News earlier this month that Dec. 21, 2012, does not predict the end of the world at all. He likened the date to an anniversary — something celebrated, not feared.
Few have listened, however, and others have supplemented the dire predictions with references to biblical prophecy and the writings of Nostradamus, perhaps adding a smattering of tea-leaves readings and taro card observations to the mix as well.
So Friday was a bust for those who, like the X-Files’ Fox Mulder, “want to believe.”
For example, a Chinese man spent his life savings — $160,000 — on a modern ark of sorts, in preparation for Friday's end of the world, according to DigTriad.com. Check out the link's video — I’d be hard-pressed to take his ark on a fishing trip (and I love fishing), let alone try to ride out the end of the world in it.
It’s only a guess on my part, but I would not be surprised if, upon realizing his folly at some point on Friday, he had muttered the Chinese equivalent of the line Peter Boyle’s character, Frank Barone, uttered from time to time in Everybody Loves Raymond: “What new hell is this?”
Of course if he did say that, he simply was repeating something his family has been saying ever since he began the ill-conceived venture.
Ultimately, however, there are some who will profit from the failed end-of-all-things prediction — perhaps the best example being the Mayans.
MayaSites Travel Services’ website offers a sampling of the 12.21.12 travel packages that have been available. They’re abundant, and I’d venture to guess that the cost includes round-trip tickets. Just in case.
Mexico, which according to International Business Times brings in more than 13 percent of its gross domestic product from travel and tourism, opened a new, $15 million Maya museum in November in Cancun. Our neighbor to the south, IBTimes.com reported, also started a “Mundo Maya 2012” campaign, inviting Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — its neighbors with historical connections to the Mayas — to join in the venture.
Travel author Joshua Burman told the Huffington Post a year ago the world’s 10 million Mayans were looking at 2012 as a “cash cow” — the travel guide author’s book notes the tourism industry was ramping up to emphasize Mayan culture this year, with an eye toward increasing tourism by 10 percent.