The Mayans are coming...
There's been plenty of discussion about the significance of December 21st 2012. For some, it's the 'end date' as predicted by the South American Mayan culture hundreds of years ago. For others, it's the Winter Solstice. But for most people, it's simply the day after the 20th and they're not really sure what all the fuss is about.
So will the world end on December 21st? Were the Mayans predicting the end of time, or just the end of a period of time and the beginning of a new phase? The suspicion by many historians is that they had to have some sort of a cut-off point in their cyclical calendar, and that date just happened to be 21/12/12. Interpretations of Mayan mythology also confirms that this may well be the case, and that if anything they were predicting not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new age.
What does it actually say?
Not a lot, in reality. The 5,125 year-old Mayan calendar simply comes to an end on the 21st December, resetting to 0.0.0.0. The calendar is based on astronomical and mathematical equations, and it may be that they simply ran out of numbers. The native people of the Americas had a variety of creation myths, and interestingly the Mayan culture echoes that of the Hopi in that both believe that the current era marks the end of a World Age and the beginning of a new one. In both cases, however, the prophecy is not that everything will come to an end. Rather, this is a time of transition, but into what only we can decide. This shift in consciousness may have already started, as we begin to realise how fragile our ecosystem is and how much of an impact we're having on it. That would certainly be a noteworthy transition and one that could change the future for generations to come.
Just like the Y2K panic of December 31st 1999, the consensus is that December 21st will pass without major incident. The sky won't fall and mankind won't suddenly wink out of existence. But what it could represent is a period of change where we take a fresh look at our relationship as a species with the environment around us and, perhaps, begin a more spiritual journey into the next phase.