The Mayans, the Calendar, and Jell-o?

The Mayans, the Calendar, and Jell-o? Via UCLA La Gente Newsmagazine Winter 2013 Issue (page 12) by Helen Alonzo, Jacqueline Espinoza, Jeanelle Horcasitas

Whether you believed it was the end of the world or the beginning of a new one, by now everyone has stabilized into a new era. One should take a little time learning about the Mayan people. Mayan people excelled in writing and mathematics, and were the only ancient culture to have a symbol for zero, while also having a fully functioning writing system where pictures represent sound. The Mayans utilized these skills to create their now infamous calendar. Its form takes after a long count calendar in which the calendar is based on the number of days passed since the starting date of that calendar. Scholars believe that this date approximately occurred in August or September 3114 BC with a speculated end date of the 5,125-year long cycle to fall around December 20-23, 2012. Since not much else is known about the Mayan people, there is no understanding for the abrupt end of the calendar. Individuals chose what to interpret that day either fear of the apocalyptic unknown or joyous celebration.

Our predicted Apocalypse was 12/21/12, or so we thought. The common misconception was: the end of the Mayan calendar also meant the end of the world. However, what the Mayan calendar predicted was the end of an era—not the world. Of course, that didn’t stop the Facebook posts, tweets, and sarcastic memes from populating the social media world about “surviving” the apocalypse. While many people savored in their victorious mortality on 12/21/12’s doomsday, present day Mayans gathered together around the majestic ancient ruins throughout the world to celebrate the beginning of a new era. In fact, Mayan traditions emerged powerfully on this day through the clothing, chanting, rituals and dances that were fully resurrected to reflect the pride of such enduring people. When the Mayans themselves reacted to their predicted “doomsday” compassionately, it made everyone else look like fools, specifically those who took the prediction seriously and gathered supplies, secured underground bunkers, and prepared for the worst. Obviously, these people were relieved when they learned that the world was still spinning. And then those who used this day as an excuse to be satirical and critical—were most likely fulfilled in their narcissism. But this date wasn’t about the whole world was it? No, it was about the Mayans, their calendar, and their prediction. It was a prediction that signified the rebirth of a new era and a symbol for new beginnings. Although there are many conspiracies about when the world will end, one thing is clear today—we are still living and breathing today. So now what? Waiting around for the Mayan’s new doomsday prediction shouldn’t be on your to-do list. Instead, we should take a lesson away from the Mayans: the end of something doesn’t immediately mean complete and utter destruction. Instead, the end means the opportunity to do new things, meet new people and gain new perspectives on life. So instead of wondering when the world will end, make yours begin and carpe diem.

One in ten people around the world believed that world might end on 12/21/2012, according to a May 2012 poll conducted by Reuters.Different information outlets such as Facebook, ABC News, and companies such as Jell-O, are a few that contributed to the “December 21st, 2012 Apocalypse” talk. ABC News had live updates in which they called people around the world at midnight 12/22/2012 to ask if they were still alive. It seemed as if everyone on Facebook was inviting guests to their “The-World-is-Going-to-End “and “YOLO” parties. Lindsay Fernandez, a Palomar Community College student who works at Party City, said that the requests for Mayan-themed party supplies were high, though the store didn’t carry any such supplies. Because the Mayan “apocalypse” was receiving so much attention, it was strategic from a business perspective that Jell-O created a commercial, which went along with the December 21st, 2012, talk. The Jell-O Company advertised their product as a way to “fun things up.” The voice over in the commercial said that beans, corn and potatoes are “Boring!” and therefore “the Gods decided to end the world” because those food items are “lame gifts”. On the science perspective, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was receiving about 200-300 calls per week asking if the world was going to end, which led it to become a “Frequently Asked Question”. In response, NASA also created a video that explained that the world would not come to an end. I don’t blame people for being worried or curious about the world ending on this date, especially with cultural influences such as the 2012 movie, the countless books published on the topic, and the History Channel analysis of 2012 theories.

Cultural and social influence can have its positivity in terms of promoting products or traveling, but I’m sure there was psychological and emotional impact that was not covered. It’s unbelievable how a theory that had not been proven could have such a great effect on society, for better and worse.


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