It has been a long held belief by a number of people that the end date of the Mayan long count calendar would foretell either the end of the world or a universal cataclysmic event. Others take it to be a sign of significance when something important will happen, a revelation or prophecy perhaps. It has even been suggested that the earth will collide with a large planetary sized body referred to as Nibiru or Planet X.
This collision claim was initially put forward by Nancy Leider in 1995 and is not itself without controversy. Leider claimed she was a contactee with the ability to receive messages from extra-terrestrials through an implant in her brain. Originally she had claimed that this collision would occur in May 2003 but this she later abandoned. However, a number of other groups felt that there was more depth to this prediction and have linked it to the end date of the Maya long count calendar of 21st December 2012.
The long count calendar was a linear count of days roughly 5,125 years long which was calculated to end on the above date. It was taken to cover Maya social history and events encompassing a number of other Maya calendars such as the Tzolk'in and the Haab. It was also influenced by astronomical calendars that the Maya used. Strangely, despite the importance placed upon this long count calendar, it does not have a specific name. Hence the vague reference to it as the long count calendar.
Furthermore, to add to the controversy, the name Nibiru is derived from the work of Zecharia Sitchin. His work expounded the belief that extra-terrestrial events played a large part in the history of ancient humans. This was developed further into the hypothesis of an undiscovered planet known as Nibiru which had helped create earth. Sitchin claimed that Nibiru was home to an extra-terrestrial race called the Anunnaki which had helped develop ancient humans. The Anunnaki is one of the groups of extra-terrestrials that Lieder had claimed to be able to contact. It is quite telling that Sitchin strongly denied any connection between his work and the claims by various doomsday groups linking Nibiru to the possible cataclysmic events of the end date of the long count calendar.
A number of different groups have also cast doubt on this forecast as being incorrect and a misinterpretation of the Maya long count calendar itself. Indeed, a number of Maya Scholars claim that the belief of the world ending on 21st December 2012 is an incorrect analysis by those who do not understand Maya history, culture and calendars! Others feel it is nothing more than pseudoscience by those with no real understanding of scientific fact or detail.
Also recent articles in the national and international press have themselves proved to be both informative and controversial. The Los Angeles Times ran a factual article on recent findings of ancient Mayan texts from Guatemala. This was added to by Discovery News who published an academic's view that, "in times of crisis, the ancient Maya used their calendar to promote continuity and stability rather than predict apocalypse…"
In comparison, the Weekly World News ran an article titled "Storm confirms end of world Mayan prophecy". It states that the recent storms, along the eastern side of the U.S.A., confirmed the predictions regarding the end of the world using its own interpretation on ancient Maya texts.
Whatever the arguments for and against this prophecy, only time will tell on whether it proves correct or not. If you are reading this after the 22nd December 2012, then you will know the answer.
Zecharia Sitchin - The 12th Planet: Book 1 of the Earth Chronicles, HarperCollins, New York (2007), ISBN: 0-06-137913-1
Andy Smith - http://weeklyworldnews.com, July 5th, 2012
Thomas H. Maugh II - Los Angeles Times, May 10th, 2012