Larrabee: Happy birthday, it's the Apocalypse!

I was born on Dec. 21, 1988. This means a few things. First, it means that, later this year, I will be able to legally purchase alcohol. It also means that my birthday and Christmas gifts invariably get melded together, and always come in boxes wrapped with paper sporting snowmen, never with cakes or the words "happy birthday" in multicolored letters. But it also means, according to some, that I will die on my 24th birthday.

On Dec. 21, 2012, the world is going to end, apparently as per the Mayan calendar, which mysteriously stops on that date. That's just great. I won't get any presents that year, blended with Christmas or otherwise. People will be far too panicked. But are the hysteria, the media coverage, the History and Discovery Channel specials and the soon-to-be-released movie 2012, justified? According to a recent Associated Press article, no.

Reading the article - a piece that appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle on Oct. 11 - my fears began to lessen. According to Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a current Mayan elder, these notions of the world's final day are rooted in Western thought and have little basis in actual Mayan lore.

In Mayan history, time was marked in 394-year increments known as Baktuns and thirteen was a sacred number. The thirteenth Baktun ends on Dec. 21, 2012. The basis for the doomsday theories come from a Mayan monument discovered during road construction in the 1960s, cryptically called "Monument Six," which states that, on this date, Bolon Yokte, the god of creation and war, will come down from the sky, ending an era in Mayan history.

But the monument says nothing of what this will mean, nothing of an end of days. While the calendar in which this information appears ends on the 21st of 2012, that same monument has other marking on it describing events ending in the year 4772. Honestly, if the world is going to end in 4772, I could really care less. I would sort of expect it by then.

In the end, as Yucatan Mayan archaeologist Jose Huchim states in the article, "If I went into a Mayan-speaking community and asked what was going to happen in 2012, they would have no idea what I was talking about." If only the same could be said for the West.

As the article aptly points out, those fear mongering over the 2012 apocalypse seem to have short memories. The 1987 Harmonic Convergence never happened. People filled their bathtubs to stock up on water only to empty them the next day when Y2K faded to distant memory.

The world has ended and been saved many times thanks to Western media. I have a feeling that it will be saved again. Waking up on Dec. 22, 2012, will be a nice birthday present in itself, I guess. Or will it be an early Christmas present? I can never tell, they always get blurred together...

Chris Larrabee is a junior English major who hopes he gets a chance to open his gifts before the Rapture happens.