December 21, 2012: The World Didn’t End But Mine Began

When I was 23 years old and fresh out of college, just a year after having moved across the country to Los Angeles from Richmond, Virginia, my husband and I had gotten engaged and set a date for our wedding. Having been together for 8 years, since high school, it seemed appropriate to get married at the age of 24. Since we began dating on December 21st (in 2004…) we decided that December 21, 2012 would be the best date to set our wedding for since (1) we would be going home at that point anyway to spend the Christmas holiday in Virginia with our family and friends and (2) we wanted to keep our anniversary the same. It only made since that the anniversary of our wedding should be the same day we currently celebrated as the anniversary when we started dating. Plus, a winter wedding sounded lovely.

Well, when we looked at the calendar and saw the approaching December 21, 2012 would be the wedding date, we couldn’t help but laugh. If you don’t know, there was an extremely popular conspiracy theory that the world would end on December 21, 2012. It was all many people could talk about for years leading up to that event, as it was supposedly the known date of the end of the world. We knew that if the world was going to end, there was nothing more that we wanted in that moment than to get married surrounded by family and friends. So, we began joking and calling our wedding day “The day the world ends, but ours begins…” Obviously, the world didn’t end on that date. After all, here we are in 2022, 10 years later, celebrating 10 years of marriage. Why did everyone think the world would end on that date?

Why did so many believe the world would end on December 21, 2012?

While there were many theories on how the world would end on that date (being crashed into by another planet, getting destroyed by a giant title wave, going down in a giant earthquake), there was one particular reason why people believed the world would end on that date. Simply put, the Ancient Mayans’ Long-Count Calendar stopped abruptly on December 21, 2012. Because of that, many who didn’t know better would look at the calendar and believe that the Mayans predicted the world would end on that date. Thus, rumors spread about regarding Mayan prophecies of the end of the world.

And, honestly, I could see how people could misconstrue that information. The Mayan people were incredibly advanced in their time, building elaborate cities, communicating in one of the first written languages, and measuring time in not just one but two calendar systems, both being rather complicated. The Mayans had a Calendar Round system that consisted of a 260-day sacred year cycle that overlapped with a 356-day secular year which resulted in every day having a number, a name, a day, and a month. This regularly reset itself like a clock.

The other calendar, the Long-Count Calendar, was the one that convinced everyone the world would end. Because the Calendar Round repeated itself annually, it was hard to distinguish exactly when something happened and tell the difference between years past, so the Long Calendar was put into place. This one was similar to our modern calendars, as it set a fixed date where you could differentiate between each year. Part of the cycle of this calendar was the “Grand Cycle” which took place roughly every 5,139 solar years… this date was, from the conception of their calendar, December 21, 2012.

end-of-the-world-hysteria-december-21-2012-close-up-on-mayam-calendar

Why the world didn’t end on December 21, 2012.

The reality was that, according to historians, the Mayans never predicted the end of the world on that date. In truth, their Long-Count Calendar was set up to be a repeating, circular loop that went until that date. In reality, if the Mayan civilization was still around at this time utilizing the calendar as they were, it would have just started over at 0 on that date, as it was meant to be cyclical. (In other words, a new “Grand Cycle” of their calendar would begin on December 22, 2012.) There was no need for them in their time to have a calendar with a date so far in the future past December 21, 2012, anyway, so it wasn’t an issue they were likely even concerned over in the slightest.

Historians and experts alike also explain that the Mayan people had almost no tradition of disasters or apocalyptic endings. (That was more of an Aztec belief system and people regularly confuse the two groups of people despite them being so different.) Rather than tracking an apocalypse, the ancient Mayans simply celebrated the significance of each new day, not anticipating an ending. However, we humans love a good disaster story, and we truly enjoy the drama of a good tale, so we saw that their calendar ended and the more excitable of us rolled with it, declaring that the Mayans saw the end of the world coming on December 21, 2012.

All in all, the world didn’t end on December 21, 2012, clearly, and now, ten years after that exciting date, I celebrate my wedding anniversary, a day that the world “could have ended” but didn’t, the day that our world together (mine and my husband’s) officially began.

Malorie Mackey is an actress, published author, and adventurer. Malorie grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she loved sports, the outdoors, animals, and all forms of art. She took to acting at a young age, so it was no surprise when she decided to go to college for theatre. While in college, Malorie studied body movement with the DAH Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, voice in Herefordshire, England with Frankie Armstrong, and the business of theatre in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Malorie moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles after receiving her BFA in Theatre Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon arriving in LA, Malorie participated in the Miss California USA 2011 Pageant where she won the “Friend’s Choice” Award (by popular vote) and received a beautiful award for it.

While living on the West Coast, Malorie accumulated over 40 acting credits working on a variety of television shows, web series, and indie films, such as the sci-fi movie “Dracano,” the Biography Channel show “My Haunted House,” the tv pilot “Model Citizen” with Angie Everhart, and the award-winning indie film “Amelia 2.0.”

Throughout her experiences, Malorie found a love for travel and adventure, having journeyed to over a dozen countries experiencing unique locations. From the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre mountain range to the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Malorie began adventuring and writing about her unique travels. These travel excerpts can be found on VIVA GLAM Magazine, in Malorie’s Adventure Blog, in Malorie’s adventure show: “Weird World Adventures” and in the works for her full-length travel book.

In 2022, Malorie was thrilled to become a member of the Explorer’s Club through her work on scientific travel. Her experiences volunteering on archaeological and anthropological expeditions as well as with animal conservation allowed her entry into the exclusive club. Since then, Malorie has focused more on scientific travel.

Malorie’s show “Weird World Adventures” releases on Amazon Prime Video in the Spring of 2024! Stay tuned as Malorie brings the strangest wonders of the world to you!

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