The mystery of #Maya apocalypse has been decoded finally. Their calender does not end on 21 December 2012. To know more, read the following research by National Geographic grantee William Saturno.
December 21st is the winter solstice and the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s all due to Earth’s tilt, which ensures that the shortest day of every year falls around December 21.
Some predicted that 21 december 2012 would also mark Earth’s doomsday, thanks to a longstanding rumor that the Maya calendar ends on December 21, 2012. But earlier this year, National Geographic grantee William Saturno found evidence that the Maya calculated dates thousands of years past 2012.
“We keep looking for endings,” Saturno said in a statement. “The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset.”
During the winter solstice the sun hugs closer to the horizon than at any other time during the year, yielding the least amount of daylight annually. On the bright side, the day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days leading up to the summer solstice.
“Solstice” is derived from the Latin phrase for “sun stands still.” That’s because—after months of growing shorter and lower since the summer solstice—the sun’s arc through the sky appears to stabilize, with the sun seeming to rise and set in the same two places for several days. Then the arc begins growing longer and higher in the sky, reaching its peak at the summer solstice.
The solstices occur twice a year (around December 21 and June 21) because Earth is tilted by an average of 23.5 degrees as it orbits the sun—the same phenomenon that drives the seasons.
During the warmer half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the North Pole is tilted toward the sun. The northern winter solstice occurs when the “top” half of Earth is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle of the year.
Even without an apocalypse, the solstice has been an auspicious day since ancient times. Countless cultural and religious traditions mark the winter solstice; it’s no coincidence that so many holidays surround the first day of winter.
Scholars aren’t exactly sure of the date of Jesus Christ’s birthday, the first Christmas.
“In the early years of the Christian church, the calendar was centered around Easter,” George Washington University’s Yeide said. “Nobody knows exactly where and when they began to think it suitable to celebrate Christ’s birth as well as the Passion cycle”—the Crucifixion and resurrection depicted in the Bible. Eastern churches traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6, a date known as Epiphany in the West.
But Christmas soon became commingled with traditional observances of the first day of winter.
“As the Christmas celebration moved west,” Yeide said “the date that had traditionally been used to celebrate the winter solstice became sort of available for conversion to the observance of Christmas. In the Western church the December date became the date for Christmas.”
Throughout history, humans have celebrated the winter solstice, often with an appreciative eye toward the return of summer sunlight.
excerpted from: National Geographic site