Doomsday preppers have not only one but two days to watch out for.
A UBC professor of art history explains that various scholars have tried to pinpoint how the Mayan calendar coincides with the Gregorian calendar with regards to when it is supposed to end and begin a new cycle.
“And the general consensus is around two dates: December 21 and December 23,” Marvin Cohodas told the Straight in a phone interview. “The two most used correlations are two days apart. But there are other people who dispute those correlations altogether.”
Cohodas noted that the ancient Maya people had different calendars, and the one that has been associated by some with the end of days is the so-called “progressive calendar”.
“It has an infinite extension into the past and the future,” Cohodas said. “But it also has cyclic aspects about every 5,125 years. It is supposed to recycle and this December 21 is one of those spots.”
Cohodas has a special interest in Maya studies, and according to the UBC academic, the ancient Mayans held a number of notions about creation. These include the idea that there are “previous creations”, hence the concept of a recycling.
“I say recycle because elements of the past creation are left over, and used to make a new one,” he said. “But that is ancient belief. People today don’t believe that.
“You need to understand that the notion of the universe being destroyed and re-created is an elaboration of what was actually an annual agricultural cycle that focuses on the maize, which is what we call corn,” Cohodas also said. “And the maize is an annual plant so annually it dies, and so you need to plant the seed in order to re-create it. The universe works the same way.
“The way they told the story of the recycling of the universe was through the maize,” the art history professor continued. “So the destruction of the cosmos is like the planting of maize seed, and its re-creation is like the sprouting of the maize. Destruction is seen as a collapse of the sky upon the earth, and in the re-creation when the maize plant grows, it raises up the sky again.”
The ancient Mayans were no different from the early Christians, according to Cohodas. “Just imagine about a thousand years ago as Christians were coming up to the year 1000; many Christians thought that that would be the end of time,” he said.
Like the Christians, Mayans have changed their views about the universe. The Maya of today, according to Cohodas, “hope that this [recycling of the calendar] will bring some kind of renewal and better circumstances. They haven’t predicted exactly how that will happen.”
Pressed whether there is really nothing to worry about in the coming days, an amused Cohodas asked in return: “What do you think?”