If you are stressing because there is not a single bed-and-breakfast in Bugarach, France (purportedly the only place in the world safe from the predicted Mayan apocalypse of 2012), relax. For a variety of reasons, the world is NOT going to end tomorrow. December 21, 2012, has been ballyhooed for years as the date the world will end. Fin. Finito. That’s all folks. And I’m not paying that cable bill either.
Except… that it won’t be.
The list of “Yep-that’s-it. The-world-has-become-as-evil-as-it-possibly-can-be-and-____________(your god here)-has-HAD-ENOUGH” is a loooooooooooooooooooong one, folks. Better get crackin’ on buying that gift for your aunt, because no one is gonna give you an eternal excuse. Here is a brief list of the various “We Are DOOMED!” scenarios, all come and gone:
634 BCE and Some Pissed-Off Eagles
Many Romans feared that the city would be destroyed in the 120th year of its founding. There was a myth that 12 eagles had revealed to Romulus a mystical number representing the lifetime of Rome, and some early Romans hypothesized that each eagle represented 10 years.
1st Century, Early Christians
Some first-century Christians expected Jesus to return within one generation of his death. According to some scholars, Paul the Apostle was one of these.
375-400 CE, Martin of Tours
Stated that the world would end before 400. Writing “”There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established already in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power.”
All three predicted Jesus would return in the year 500.
January 1, 1000: Pope Sylvester II
Panicky Europeans, 1346-51
The black plague spreading across Europe was interpreted by many as the sign of the end of times.
1656, Various Christians
There’s always been a lot of monkeying around with numbers, with sects swearing that they have figured out the secret formula (yeah…riiiight…. we still don’t know what, precisely, the secret spices are in KFC…). Anyhoo…. “[s]ome Christians believed the world would end this year, as 1656 was the number of years between Creation and the Great Flood in the Bible.”
1697, Cotton Mather
Well-known for his love of a good prank (kidding), “[t]his Puritan minister predicted the world would end this year. After the prediction failed, he revised the date of the End two more times.”
(Okay.. this is getting tedious. There are literally dozens more but in the interest of time, and of course, our imminent demise, let’s fast forward to the twentieth century).
Feb. 4, 1962: “Psychic” Jeane Dixon
Predicted a planetary alignment on this day was to bring destruction to the world.
1975, Jehovah’s Witnesses
In 1966, Jehovah’s Witnesses estimated it had been 6000 years since man’s creation; therefore, in the fall of 1975 it would be “appropriate” for Christ’s thousand-year reign to begin. These claims were repeated throughout the late 1960. In 1974, they reaffirmed their belief that there was just a short time remaining before “the wicked world’s end.”
Oct/Nov 1982: Pat Robertson, Evangelical Pastor
In late 1976, Robertson predicted that the end of the world was coming in October or November 1982. (Well, that was the year of my first date, an event many would’ve predicted would bring the world to an end so perhaps a little leeway for ol’ Pat).
April 29, 1987: Leland Jensen, Halley’s Comet
Jensen predicted that Halley’s Comet would be pulled into Earth’s orbit on April 29, 1988, causing widespread destruction.
July, 1999: Nostradamus
A prediction attributed to Nostradamus stating the “King of Terror” would come from the sky in “1999 and seven months” led to fears of the end.
Annnnnnnnnnnd… Presenting… Despite All Historical Evidence and Obvious Fallacies to the Contrary! THE MAYANS!
Good night, all. Unless I am destroyed by aliens or burned to a crisp by a supernova, I’ll see you next week with some elegant toasts for the New Year, in which, surely, there will be predictions that all of us will become toast.