Superstitions about what could happen on December 21st seem to be big in the South American nation of Chile. In a telephone survey conducted in that country by the website, Trabajando.com , 24 percent of respondents said that they will ask their employers for the day off on December 21st, with almost half of these respondents saying that they will do so because they are "very superstitious." The 21st of December marks the end of a 5,000 year long period of the Mayan Calendar, known as the 13th Baktun. Some western mystics have said that this date represents "the end of the world," while others describe it as a period of renewal, or as a chance to connect with Mother Earth. ABC
China fears end of the world is nighChina is taking the date of December 21 - the day the world is due to end - seriously, with panic buying of candles sweeping through counties. Malcolm Moore reports.
China's most famous book of prophecies, the 7th century Tui Bei Tu, makes no direct mention of the end of the world.
But in Sichuan province, panic buying of candles has swept through two counties in the fear that an ancient Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21 proves to be true.
"Candles are selling by the hundreds, with buyers constantly coming to the market. Many stores have run out," said Huang Zhaoli, a shopper at the Neijing Wholesale Market, to the West China City Daily newspaper.
Mr Li, the owner of the Guangfa grocery store in Chengdu, added: "Lots of people have been buying candles recently. At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness".
The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China'sversion of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.
Since the beginning of December, the word "Mayans" has trended on Weibo as millions of normally phlegmatic Chinese speculate that the end is nigh. "If the Mayans are right, I won’t pay my credit card bill," was one popular post.
In Shanghai, the police have had to issue a public warning about doomsday. "The end of the world is a rumour," the police said, in an internet post. "Do not believe it and do not be swindled".
A spokesman said they had handled 25 apocalypse-related cases in one 24-hour stretch. Most of the scam artists took advantage of credulous pensioners, encouraging them to hand over their savings for one last act of charity.
In Nanjing, a 54-year-old university professor's wife took out a £100,000 mortgage on her £300,000 home, saying she would donate the money to underprivileged children, saying she hoped to "do something meaningful before the world ended".
Last month, a man in the far west province of Xinjiang made news when he spent his life savings of £100,000 to build an ark for 20 people.
Lu Zhenghai began building the 65ft ship in 2010. "When the time comes, everyone can take refuge in it." However, as the deadline approaches, Mr Lu has reportedly run out of cash to finish the boat.
He said if the apocalypse failed to materialise, he would use the boat to take tourists on sightseeing tours.
In Chengdu, a web company has given its workers a tongue-in-cheek two-day break on Dec 19 and 20. "We suggest you take advantage of this 'final' time to spend more time with your closest family. We wish everyone a meaningful doomsday," it said.
China has no history of preoccupation with the apocalypse, and the current wave of paranoia can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood disaster film "2012". While the movie received a tepid welcome elsewhere, it was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military build arks to save humanity.
Lu Jiehua, a professor with the Department of Sociology at Peking University, told the Global Times, meanwhile, that the paranoia reflects a general anxiety running through Chinese society.
"This panic buying [in Sichuan] not only shows people's fear of an upcoming apocalypse, but also reflects their sense of uncertainty toward life and society," he said. TELEGRAPH
2012 Prophecies Sparking Real Fears, Suicide Warnings
"I've had two teenagers who were considering killing themselves, because they didn't want to be around when the world ends," he said. "Two women in the last two weeks said they were contemplating killing their children and themselves so they wouldn't have to suffer through the end of the world." NATGEO
Doomsday 2012 Fears: Thousands Invest in Bunkers; Some Consider Suicide
The countdown to the supposed "Mayan apocalypse" some are saying could hit Dec. 21 of this year has begun and some people are already thinking of taking drastic measures in order to prepare for end-of-the-world events.
David Morrison, senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, shared with the Daily Mail that he receives 10 emails a day from people who are "seriously, seriously upset" about the prospect of a coming apocalypse.
He shared of a message from a woman in Denmark who wrote: "Mother of one daughter and another coming. Yesterday I was considering killing myself, the baby in my stomach and my beloved two-year-old daughter before December 2012 for fear of having to experience the Earth’s destruction."
A 13-year-old American reportedly wrote: "I am considering suicide. I am scared to tears . . . I don’t want to live any more, I deserve an explanation."
These fears are based in large part on a 5,125-year-old calendar by the Mayans, who are said to have been exceptionally gifted in astronomy. The calendar ends Dec. 21, 2012, and there has been a lot of discussion among researchers and the public about what this abrupt end actually means.
An ancient stone tablet discovered at ruins in Tortuguero, southern Mexico, in the 1960s, talked of a Mayan god of war and creation who would "descend from the sky on the appointed day," which added further fuel to doomsday theories. Some researchers, however, insist that there is no concrete evidence to suggest the prophecy is referring to the destruction of Earth.
"There's no real prophesy that says this is going to be the end of the world," Christopher Powell, an archeologist who studies Mayan culture, shared with ABC News. "Not from the Mayan ruins, anyway."
NASA has stated that it has received more than 5,000 questions from people about possible end-of-the-world scenarios, the Daily Mail article shared, revealing even more cases of people asking whether they should go ahead and kill themselves and their loved ones rather than face what Dec. 21 may have in store.
Talk potential catastrophes and widespread public fear have encouraged Californian businessman Robert Vicino to start a project building luxury bankers in secret locations around the world. The shelters are sold for $10,000 per person, according to the official website of the project, named Vivos.
Although it features a section discussing end-of-the-world prophecies and has a "countdown" clock that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Dec. 21, 2012, Vivos is not focused exclusively on the Mayan apocalypse. It advertises that its shelters can be used for a great number of disasters that may hit the planet, ranging from natural catastrophes like solar flares and global tsunamis, to man-made threats such as terrorism and anarchy.
Vicino shared with the Daily Mail that more than 5,000 Americans have already booked their places, and they are expanding operations into Europe. One such man who has reserved a spot, Steve Cramer, said: "We’re not crazy people: these are fearful times. My family wants to survive. You have to be prepared."
Another member, Jason Hodge, a father of four, described his decision as an "investment in life."
"I want to make sure I have a place I can take me and my family if that worst-case scenario were to happen," he explained.
From the many theories of what may happen on the Mayan date, SPACE.com is said to have shared reports of a rogue planet called "Nibiru" that is headed for Earth, and according to Nancy Lieder, a self-proclaimed Nibiru expert who claims she is in contact with aliens from Zeta Reticuli, Nibiru will strike Earth on Dec. 21, 2012.
NASA representative, Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., debunked Lieder's claims and told SPACE.com that "Nibiru is ridiculous because it doesn't exist -- it never existed as anything other than a figment of the imagination by pseudo-scientists who don't seem bothered by a complete lack of evidence."
"There are no known near-Earth objects in 2012 that present a credible risk to Earth," Yeomans concluded.
James Beverley, a professor of Christian thought and ethics at Toronto's Tyndale University College & Seminary, explained that apocalypse theories associated with the Maya were often misinformed New Age theories. He said they lack grounding in Mayan anthropology or religious studies, and that such theories assume a future that is God’s alone to know.
"The Bible tells us that the world as we know it will end sometime, but Jesus also tells us that no one knows the hour," Beverley said. "So, the 2012 prediction deserves no respect, though people who truly believe this theory should be treated with love."
Family Radio Stations, Inc. founder Harold Camping predicted the end of the world incorrectly on several occasions. He predicted the world would end in 1994, then said that the rapture would occur May 21, 2011, and his latest prediction was an Oct. 2011 rapture.
As a result, many believers sold their homes and gave up their wealth to fund campaigns advertising the Christian broadcaster's claims. They bought t-shirts and other merchandise and stood on street corners telling of the upcoming rapture.
Steven L. Sherman, author of The Revelation of Christ: Understanding the Apocalypse, said such things happen when people are not "Bible literate."
To Sherman, people who believe the Mayan calendar predicts the end of days believe in paganism. "I don't put any credence in it, but Christians have to be prepared for persecution one day," he concluded.
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