Tomorrow marks the end of the 13th cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar,
giving rise to rumors about the end of the world. Worries about a looming apocalypse are nothing new in human history, but 21st century reactions to the possible destruction of the planet (or human civilization) vary widely, from "preppers" who cultivate self-sufficiency, to groups offering prayerful wishes, to entrepreneurs who have found a growing market for their survival gear. Regarding tomorrow's fateful date, the descendents of the Mayans themselves appear to regard the milestone as simply marking the end of an era, not the entire world. [26 photos]
Honduran Ch'orti' of Mayan descent celebrate a point during a Mayan ball game against Guatemalan Quirigua in Copan, on December 18, 2012. This week, at sunrise on Friday, December 21, an era closes in the Maya Long Count calendar, an event that has been likened by different groups to the end of days, the start of a new, more spiritual age or a good reason to hang out at old Maya temples across Mexico and Central America.
Lu Zhenghai, right, walks near his ark-like vessel under construction in China's northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, on November 24, 2012. Lu Zhenghai is one of at least two men in China predicting a world-ending flood, come December 21, the fateful day many believe the Maya set as the conclusion of their 5,125-year long-count calendar. Zhenghai has spent his life savings building the 70-foot-by-50-foot vessel powered by three diesel engines, according to state media.
Gendarmes drive on a road in Bugarach, France, in order to secure the area around the peak, on December 19, 2012. The Peak of Bugarach, the highest point of the Corbieres massif, in southwestern France, surrounded in legend for centuries, has become a focal point for many apocalypse believers as rumors have circulated that its mountain contains doors into other worlds, or that extraterrestrials will return here on Judgment day to take refuge at their base. Residents of the tiny southern French hamlet, are witness to a rising influx of Doomsday believers convinced it is the only place that will survive judgment day, December 21, 2012, as an era closes in the Maya Long Count calendar.
A sky caiman vomits water on one of the last pages of the 12th-century Dresden Codex, also known as the "Codex Dresdensis", one of four historic Mayan manuscripts that still exist in the world and that together suggest modern civilization will come to an end on December 21, at the Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany, on November 8, 2012. The documents enumerate the Mayan calendar, which will complete its 13th cycle on December 21, 2012 and many people across the globe are interpreting the calendar to mean impending global devastation and the birth of a new order are near.
Bottles of wine with labels reading "the end of the world", on sale in Sirince, a village in western Turkey, on December 20, 2012. Believers in the Mayan calendar's doomsday prediction for December 21, 2012, are flocking to Sirince, a small village in Turkey's Izmir province, which some believe is the only safe haven from the impending apocalypse because the Virgin Mary is said to have risen to heaven from there.
The Tunupa ship is seen as Bolivian priests make offerings in Lake Titicaca, 74 km (46 miles) away from La Paz City, in La Paz, on December 16, 2012. Sunday marked the first of six days of celebrations to commemorate the end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, which some believe to be the end of the world, that indigenous Bolivians regard as the change of an era.
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