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What is so Unique About the Year 2012?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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The year 2012 has, in recent years, become the subject of a great deal of excitement, fear, and controversy. Many people believe that the year 2012 will result in some sort of enormous cataclysm, perhaps the end of the world, and will signal a great shift in life as we know it. This belief is based both in an understanding of cosmological alignment of earth in relation to other celestial bodies, and to the galaxy itself, and in an esoteric Christian eschatology built on top of earlier Mayan beliefs that was formed sometime in the 16th century.

The cosmological importance of 2012 is believed to be a great alignment, occurring on 21 December of that year. Some people believe that when the sun rises on that day, it will rise directly in the middle of the Milky Way, representing an alignment of the Earth, the Sun, and the Galactic Center. This is said to cause a great shift, some say in the consciousness of life on the planet, some say on the planet itself. Skeptics, however, point out that this alignment is purely visual, and does not actually represent a true alignment with the Galactic Center. The perceptual alignment is caused simply by the 26,000 year gradual precession of the equinoxes.

Others believe that what is occurring on 21 December is not simply a perceptual alignment, but a true shift in the Earth’s alignment to the Milky Way. Our Solar System is orbiting the Galactic Center in an orbit that takes approximately 225 million years to complete, and during its orbit it moves up and down, crossing the central plane roughly every 33 million years. Believers in this theory hold that on 21 December, 2012, our solar system will be crossing this central plane for the first time in 33 million years. There is some scientific evidence, however, that suggests our solar system actually crossed this plane roughly 3 million years ago, giving us another 30 million years before we cross it again.

The other major interpretation of 2012 as a special date relates to the Mayan calendar, and a certain interpretation of it. The Mayan calendar, technically the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, is a base-20 calendar which counts forward from 11 August, 3114 BCE. The calendar can be easily represented in a base system including five major subdivisions: the k’in, the winal, the tun, the k’atun, and the b’ak’tun. A k’in is equal to 1 day, or roughly 1/365 of a year; a winal is equal to 20 days, or 20 kin, or 1/18 of a year; a tun is equal to 360 days, or 18 winal, or roughly 1 year; a k’atun is equal to 7,200 days, or 20 tun, or roughly 19.7 years; and a b’ak’tun is equal to 144,000 days, or 20 k’atun, or roughly 394 years.

These dates are usually represented with decimal places between them. So that, for example, a date 788 years into the cycle, or 2 b’ak’tuns, could be represented as, and the date twenty days later would be According to the Popol Vuh, a book compiling creation myths of the K’iche’ Maya, we are living in a fourth world, created after the third world ended at the start of the 13th b’ak’tun. The Mayan Long Count date of will occur on 20 December, 2012, making 21 December the start of the 13th b’ak’tun, or It should be noted, however, that the Maya themselves never seemed to think this date represented any sort of end of the world, and there are a number of stelae that reference dates well past the beginning of the 13th b’ak’tun.

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Discussion Comments
By anon309811 — On Dec 18, 2012

Imagine someone a few thousand years ago decides to flip the numbers of the date around in 12/21, say magnetic shift is doing the same, and then have a few drinks at the end of writing a pretty interesting book. Now it might get some good sex in a couple of days but I doubt it will happen.

By anon300347 — On Oct 29, 2012

Listen, just stop right where you are at this moment and balance out all your extreme thoughts and expectations. Nothing is magic and everything has a purpose. Don't we all cherish family and friends, hate and joke with the same? Don't we all need food, water, and shelter? Don't the blind deserve to see and the crippled set free?

We have the technology, knowledge and resources, but there is still a constriction. Imagine our planet striving into time with a "force-shield."

By anon221531 — On Oct 12, 2011

please people, i won't lie but i think that the world will end. i'm so scared. what about my family?

By anon142325 — On Jan 12, 2011

The world won't end in 2012, but what will it say? The 2012 Enigma

By anon59234 — On Jan 07, 2010

hey "anon40993" of course people are surviving HIV. I mean look at magic johnson.

"edjohnson" what? you're ready to submit your entire family to death because you think they're going to heaven? What if there is no heaven?

2012 will be a glorious year, in which there will be plenty of booze, women and other satisfaction all over.

By anon54370 — On Nov 29, 2009

2012 is not the end, it is the beginning of sorrows. 2018, seven years on from 2012, is the 50th week of Daniel.

In the Hebrew year of 5778 from fall of creation, 222 rotations of good followed by 5778 rotations = 6000 years as it is written 1 day is as 1000 years and God created all in 6 days and on the 7 day (of the Lord) he rested

120*50, Jubilee as it is written his days shall be 120.

"No one knows the very day and hour but awake and buy oil for the wedding is nigh."

Peace is to be confirmed in the holy land between Ishmael and Isaac within two years

Then the third temple will be completed on the sacred place but then in the midst after times time and half a time the abomination that maketh desolate shall be.

Blessed is he that waiteth, but go thou thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest,and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

By anon50204 — On Oct 26, 2009

Wow! It must be true -- I just looked at my Visa card, and in the year 2012, it will expire!

By anon49093 — On Oct 17, 2009

canada's part of the universe? i thought it was just a bad dream.

By anon48475 — On Oct 12, 2009

2012 could be the year we spy another Earth in orbit around Alpha Centuari B. The year we realize that we are not alone, the year we prepare for the most terrible war! Centauri Dreams - Alpha Centauri Hunt Intensifies

By anon48034 — On Oct 09, 2009

But good then. no need to worry anymore about paying bills and credit cards.

By anon46060 — On Sep 22, 2009

Actually, the Mayans got the date off by several years. In 1980 the sun began its 35.8 year transit of the Galactic-Plane Ecliptic Crossing. It reached the center of this line in 1998. In 2016 it will complete this transit. The only other predictions concerning the year 2012 are from Nostradamus in his writings. How anyone links this to that date is unclear. (Century 8, Quatrain 77) The antichrist very soon annihilates the three, twenty-seven years his war will last. The unbelievers are dead, captive, exiled; with blood, human bodies, water and red hail covering the earth. (Century 8, Quatrain 77) The Old Crone

By anon45450 — On Sep 16, 2009

Joe63: pray for change.

By anon43418 — On Aug 28, 2009

I'd be more concerned about the earth's magnetic poles doing a flip-flop. A Discovery Channel show explains this recurring phenomenon (intervals of millions of years. When it happens, apparently the earth is without it's great, magnetic shield that deflects most solar and universe particles and energy. Currently, the measured magnetic force at the poles is waning. Now there's something worthy of concern. This 2012 stuff is claptrap.

By anon42449 — On Aug 21, 2009

Scam and spooky is the proper expression of all these rumors! Apocalypse of John tells exactly what will be happening. Now is the time of the antichrist to appear in this world and he will bring almost the total extinction of all life this world and almost all humans. This will cause the Second COming of Jesus Christ to save His creation which is Earth with all life including, and to establish the 1000 years Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. It is written so clearly into the Revelation and it is so strange that people are reading all these spooky rumors today.

By anon40993 — On Aug 12, 2009

It may be true or may not be, but in my opinion, the destruction was already started,

Since we are so proud that our technology and culture are more advanced these days compared to olden days, but we haven't achieved anything.

If we have more knowledge and wisdom, why didn't we go to our nearer planets and survive,

why don't we travel across galaxy and discover our new living opportunities?

more than that we ourselves unable to survive against dreadful diseases like HIV,e.t.c..,

So in other way the destruction was already started in the ways of contagious diseases, existence of new viruses (not computer virus :))...

So, the god who is responsible for this (I don't know whether it is Jesus, Allah, vishnu,etc.) will come again and take the survivors with him at the end of the time.

Up to then no one is great!

If you think you are great! You are great! :)

By anon40174 — On Aug 06, 2009

Only Allah knows when, where and how. the knowledge of any living person is negligible.

By anon39154 — On Jul 30, 2009

Hot dogs! We will get a good scary movie about 2012.A lot of coments are made about Jesus and God. Well,all had better take note and start beliving in and living for God and Jesus. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Find Him and don't worry about 2012. By the way,God bless you.

By cainan3 — On Jul 29, 2009

Why does mere man think he can know the wisdom and complete plan of God? He has revealed to us in His Word what we need to know, mainly that Jesus bore our sins on the cross to satisfy the Penalty that the Holy Father and perfect Judge has demanded.

"Religion" calls for us to somehow appease God by our merits. Christianity reaches down and gives us complete forgiveness through the price Jesus paid for us. "It is finished" He said on the cross. We can't add anything to it. We just need to place our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior and let Him clean up our lives which we are unable to do. Just be truly sorry for your sins and trust in Him as your Lord (we give ourselves to Him to make us new) and Savior and you won't have to worry about 2012 or any other day. Eternity is a very long time. We need to prepare for it now. Read the book of Romans to see God's plan of salvation. In love, Cainan

By carpusdiem — On Jul 28, 2009

Do not believe anything that is written by man. Its all a scam. Nobody can predict what will happen, there are too many probabilities. Think Quantum!

By anon38749 — On Jul 28, 2009

OK just one more reason to evaluate "what the heck are we thinking?" For years the end has been predicted. Everyone wants that fame and glory but only a few have shared the same date and our guard seems to be dropping with each missed date. But only one truly knows both ours and the world’s end. We as living beings on this Earth have the choice to believe what we want. As for me, I'm putting my cookies in Gods basket with Jesus being the baker! He is our true and only deliverer and His second coming will be the sign only known by Him, but that time could be as soon as today or 2012. Better to be prepared then not And it’s never too late to ask for direction from and by Jesus Christ. It is worth it. I mean come on guys, eternity is a very long time! Sorry but it is what it is. May God bless you all! :)

By drss1942 — On Jul 27, 2009

Can anyone say hypothesis? The 2012 idea is just that, an idea. It is not a hypothesis, much less a theory.

By Sewicked — On Jul 27, 2009

The 'world as we know it' has ended several times already. Can you say 'industrial revolution'? Can you say 'cellphone'? I knew you could.

I find this article interesting simply because now I understand references to 2012 and the Mayan calendar.

By anon38566 — On Jul 27, 2009

The *most* important thing here is: will we be ready for the final stage/end, where the world does, in fact, end, as it has to and cannot go on or live forever, much like these bodies we're in! So, the important question isn't so much *when* will the world end....but *will we be ready when it does*?

Christ has *clearly* told us in His Word, that *no one* can enter His glory through any other way, but only through Him alone, as *He* alone is the Way, Truth and Life -- both life on earth *and* eternal Life hereafter.

A *very* sobering question (though it's been asked /heard a million times) but does need to be asked is: If you were to die this very night, where would you go to spend eternity? If you do believe, you'll have *nothing* to lose and will be glad you did believe, but if you don't believe, you'll have *everything* to lose and will deeply regret having not believed while crying out: IF I'd only believed and trusted in Christ as my Savior!

If you read His Word, you will know and come to learn that every single word there is true, and *so much* already of what it has predicted has come to pass, and all that it says will come to pass, as every Word of God has come divinely led, spoken and written by His Spirit -- and not through man. Man is only a mere vessel, instrument or tool through which He's written His Word by.

By anon38562 — On Jul 27, 2009

this might be true because i was alerted by Kryonschool of so much catastrophe that might befall the earth by 2012. I think it is linked to this same article posted by wiseGEEK.

By anon38538 — On Jul 27, 2009

Only Lord Hari or Krsna knows the time of pralaya. It will take 4,27,000 years from now. So lets sleep well and pray to *him* only.

By anon38527 — On Jul 27, 2009

Que sera sera; Whatever will be will be; The future's not ours to see; Que sera sera. lol

By anon38510 — On Jul 26, 2009

wow - never heard of more crap.

By anon38466 — On Jul 26, 2009

only god really knows when the world is going to end not even jesus christ knows, so i'm saying that not even man can predict it.

By anon38441 — On Jul 26, 2009

Interesting theory but it won't keep me up at night. Someone somewhere is always predicting that 'the sky is falling' or that some other catastrophe is imminent. Remember the great computer crash of 2000 and the threat of global cooling in the early 1980s? And in 1798, many believed Thomas Malthus' theory that population growth would exceed the world's ability to feed itself and catastrophe would ensue; in some parts of the world, too much food is available!

By ellefagan — On Jul 26, 2009

I found the notes here about Socialism being adopted as the new way with world governments interesting.

By ellefagan — On Jul 26, 2009

Great article, because "forewarned is forearmed". We can all be OK with it, as scare stories on it emerge, and do our own research to understand all sides of the issue. And it's one more good reason to "make our A's"

in our own lives, so that whatever happens, even the slightest special energy, we are ready for the best in it.

By anon38437 — On Jul 26, 2009

As with all of your articles, i found this one interesting and informative, but to think that we would know the 'exact' alignment of anything is a little silly. We aren't even sure of the shape, size or mass distribution in our galaxy let alone the precise location of the earth in relationship to anything in space at any time. Nevertheless, the article was interesting and i thank you for its content.-- von bond

By anon38435 — On Jul 26, 2009

It's about 13, again, isn't it. Why don't we call it Year 12a. and forget about it?

By anon38431 — On Jul 26, 2009

I emphasize that the passage of the planet Hercolubus or Nibiru has been neglected in the article. And this is the main concern.

By anon38429 — On Jul 26, 2009

It is an established truth that from the sun (center of the solar system) is derived all force, every power and variety of phenomena that manifests itself upon Earth. Solar system passes through one sign of celestial zodiac in 2,160 years (a twelfth part of total orbit of 25,920 years), hosting an astral influx peculiar to a particular zodiac sign. No two signs are alike in nature or quality, hence the passage of the solar system from one sign into another causes a change of polarity in planetary action. The earth, in an annual passage orbiting the sun, receives the harmonious or discordant vibrations of this astral influx in multi-dimensions. Because all vibrates harmoniously to the stellar (astral) cause, hence every 2160 years a new astral influx is been manifested on Earth, unto we humans. In this new era, upon whose threshold we now stand, the winter solstice, 21st December 2012, the vibrations will be more intense and enhanced. This is called ‘a mass-ascension’ or ‘the great shift’ in scientific lexicon.

To illustrate: In December 2012, the sun shall pass from phase of one zodiac, Pisces, into another, Aquarius. This is beginning a new cycle of dynamism through galactic and quantum forces, interacting through heliosphere and heliopause (periphery of the solar system within the orion arm of galaxy), beyond which exists all zodiacs, and much more about astro-world.

Yes! It is the doomsday, not for the earth, but for the ‘old cyclic phase’ of one of the zodiac signs, Pisces, where a redundant livingness is witnessed at large across the globe. But the same is a dynamic incarnation for a ‘new cyclic phase’ through another zodiac sign, Aquarius, thereby transiting a move to higher vibration, a new astral-influx, where earth as a whole, inclusive of humans in an enhanced form will make a difference. Human knowledge and acuity of mind are for sure to gain enhancement, through this doomsday! --Regards and greetings, Charanjeet Singh Lamba,

gnosiologist, astral scientist

By anon38422 — On Jul 26, 2009

also an election year for the USA - perhaps we'll choose socialism permanently as have Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden and others

By anon38419 — On Jul 26, 2009

We've been hearing crapola about this ever since the sun ducked behind the moon for the first time.

By anon38415 — On Jul 26, 2009

I think that in any sufficiently advanced society, religion is illogical. The definition of an 'advanced society' in this case, is 'any society that has the technological capability to terminate its existence by any means'. Under this definition, Medieval Europe was an advanced society, and, therefore, we should have long since abandoned religion. Religion is a constraint that holds us back in science and cultural. Religion is a concept that has a tendency to arise among a group of solitary individuals that has no means of explaining natural phenomenon.

By anon38413 — On Jul 26, 2009


By anon38406 — On Jul 26, 2009

While there's still time, I need to thank the Wise Geek for the information, advice, links and all around wisdom you've shared with us. Thanks. Mimi

By anon38405 — On Jul 26, 2009

Stop wasting time with this b.s.

By anon38403 — On Jul 26, 2009

Does anyone have a '65 GTO they want to give me before the end?

By anon38401 — On Jul 26, 2009

The problem with 2012 (or with 2009) is not cosmological -- it is terrestrial -- due to the lack of good deeds and the plethora of bad deeds by the humans on the earth.

By anon38393 — On Jul 26, 2009

As long as humans exist, rumours like this will persist, not that they have any basis of truth, like the recent solar eclipse causing cataclysmic earthquakes and tsunamis.

By anon38390 — On Jul 26, 2009

Yeah, i guess it's correct, but what i think is the planet or life on planet won't be destroyed. i'm only thinking it will take a revolution. evil thoughts will be overcome by good ones.

By edjohnson — On Jul 26, 2009

I read "The Late Great Planet Earth," and we're still here!! We also survived the great computer crash when the calendar turned to 2000.

What we really need is a country that will turn back to God. I've got my BA "ticket," and our entire family is ready to relocate to Heaven. No worries in our home about all the speculations. I am certain of where my entire family and I are going whenever this world finally does come to an end!

Meanwhile, read John 3:16.

By anon38383 — On Jul 26, 2009

Why is it that people will believe this kind of nonsense? They won't believe that if you wrap a dead rat around your neck it will cure a sore throat or some such Pliny the Elder rot simply because it was a long time ago - so why this tosh?

By anon38377 — On Jul 26, 2009

I don't agree with it, as there are a lot of controversies, but no proper date and time is there, and there is not even a single warning through science, while there are some religious thoughts also. But in total I don't agree.

By anon38376 — On Jul 26, 2009

Cosmic world talks of millions of years on events happening. But this exact date of 21st Dec 2012, when change is happening to the earth looks difficult to assimilate. --Kuttan

By anon38371 — On Jul 26, 2009

I have never heard of this before. It's a bit spooky.

By anon38370 — On Jul 26, 2009

Since I'm an "optimist" by nature, I'm placing my bets on the miscalculation of 30 million years. Hey, maybe the US will have a decent healthcare policy by then!

By lil_moon — On Jul 09, 2009

Wow - I have never heard of this before. I generally don't believe this kind of thing, but I'll keep it in mind as the date grows closer.

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