December 21, 2012

If you are reading this post right now, then the Mayans were wrong about their ‘end of the world’ prophesy!  Or, have we just misread their calendar?  Why was there such a big deal about this day?

December 2012 marks the conclusion of a b’ak’tun—a time period in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar which was used in Central America before the arrival of Europeans. Unlike the 52-year Calendar Round still used today among the Maya, the Long Count marks the end of a 5,126-year era.  There are disagreements as to what will happen at the end of this era, ranging from the drastic ‘end of the world,’ to the more simplistic, such as representing the end of a calendar year, like our 365 day calendar that we replace every January 1st.

Will this build-up be similar to the build-up before the Y2K phenomenon, marking the new millennium in 2000?  Perhaps we’ll know better on December 22…

The Victorians had their apocalyptic scares as well.  Thomas Conant, in his book, Upper Canada Sketches, details how people in East Whitby and Area thought the world was going to end in February of 1843.  Conant wrote:

“The “Millerite scare,” as it might be called, was another instance of the extent to which religious fanatics could influence their hearers and affect their lives. From some manuscript left by my mother, and the account given me by my father, and by my uncle, David Annis, I have gleaned the following anecdotes of this curious event in our country:  

“During the Winter of 1842-3 the Second Adventists, or Millerites, were preaching that the world would be all burnt up in February, 1843. Nightly meetings were held, generally in the school-houses.

“One E- H-, about Prince Albert, Ont., owned a farm of one hundred acres and upwards, stocked with cattle and farm produce, as well as having implements of agriculture. So strongly did he embrace the Second Advent doctrines of the Millerites that he had not a doubt of the fire to come in February and burn all up, and in confirmation of his faith gave away his stock, implements and farm. Sarah Terwilligar, who lived about a mile east of Oshawa “corners,” on the Kingston Road, made for herself wings of silk, and, on the night of 14th of February, jumped off the porch of her home, expecting to fly heavenward. Falling to the ground some fifteen feet, she was shaken up severely and rendered wholly unfit to attend at all to the fires that were expected to follow the next day.”

Sarah Terwilligar's attempt to fly to heaven.  The world to come to an end

Sarah Terwilligar’s attempt to fly to heaven. The world to come to an end

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