Although it is not explicit that the end of the Mayan calendar also signifies the end of the world, many of those who have studied the calendar for so many years are convinced that the latter is an inevitable consequence. The Mayan calendar progresses in a cycle and this cycle seems to end on a specific date, December 21, 2012.
This date corresponds to the December Solstice, also known as the Winter Solstice. Solstices happen when the sun is out longer than it normally does. This means that the planet would experience longer daytimes, and of course, shorter night times. The Winter Solstice has played a very significant role in various cultures around the world since the ancient times. This drove those who study the Mayan calendar to assume that there should be something very significant about the 2012 Winter Solstice.
Even after the Mayan civilization disappeared, the calendar which they have developed continued to be in use until the 16th century. Overall, the calendar was is use for a total of almost 4000 years!
What is the Mayan Calendar Like?
The complete Mayan calendar is actually comprised of three distinct calendars namely, the Long Count, the Divine (Tzolkin) and the Civil (Haab). The calendars are cyclical and so as its interpretation of “time”. Thus, after a specific number of days, a new cycle will then begin, following the end of the previous cycle.
The three calendars are simultaneous and one calendar cannot function without the other. Thus, a typical Mayan date would consist of three dates — the Long Count date being the first, followed by the Divine date and the Civil Date. An example of a Mayan date would be: “188.8.131.52.0 4 Ahau 8 Kumku”, 184.108.40.206.0 is the Long Count date, 4 Ahau is the Divine date and 8 is the Civil date.
The Long Count Calendar
The Mayans call this calendar as the “universal cycle”. It is used to track long periods and is mostly dependent to the positioning of the stars. The entire cycle is about 2,880,000 days (equivalent to 7885 solar years). It is a Mayan belief that the Earth is destroyed at the end of each period and then re-created again to start another universal cycle. This is the belief that inspired many theorist to assume that on December 21, 2012, something terrible will befall the planet to end it.
The Divine Calendar
The Tzolkin (Divine) Calendar is also known as the Sacred Round. Its Mayan name “tzolkin” literally means “the distribution of the days”. It consists of 260 days partitioned into 20 periods with 13 days each. Each period is given a specific name (now known as glyphs). The calendar is used for religious and ceremonial events.
The Civil Calendar
Overall, this calendar has 365 days which is similar to the calendar that we have today, except that these days are grouped into 19 months, not 12. Only one of these months has 5 days, the rest have 20. The shorter month is called the Uayeb. All 19 months are depicted around the circular calendar, each represented by a glyph or picture. The pictures are said to represent the “personality” of each month.
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