The Gregorian date of 21st December 2012 held great significance for many people. Here in the Maya lands, a great many people had gathered to participate in ceremonies marking the completion of a very long cycle of time and the beginning of a new baktun within the long count calendar.
The long count calendar was used to calculate much greater cycles of time than could be recorded by the Chol Q’ij (260 days), the solar calendar (365 days) or the calendar round (52 years less 13 days). Through extension it can be used through periods of time up to thousands, and even millions, of years. In general, long count dates are given using five numbers. These numbers represent periods known as baktun, katun, tun, uinal and kin. The smallest unit is kin, which represents 1 day. The next unit, which could in a way be seen as a month, is a uinal consisting of 20 days. Moving into a larger scale, the next number represents the tun. 1 tun is made up of 18 uinal, a period of 360 days, and so is seen as a vague year. From there, the long count moves on in factors of 20. 20 tuns (7200 days) are equal to a katun, which will be 20 Gregorian years less 100 days. Finally, the greatest unit here, a baktun, a period of 20 katuns (144000 days), or roughly 394 Gregorian years. Other units extended this by further factors of 20.
Reference is made to the beginning of an age, a time of creation approximately 5125 years before 2012. This is seen on Stela C at Quirigua, which shows a date of 13 baktun, 0 katun, 0 tun, 0 winal and 0 kin, often written 184.108.40.206.0, followed by the day 4 Ajpu (Ajaw) 8 Kumku. This correlates to a date of 13th August 3114BC, although another correlation is 11th August 3114BC. For one reason or another it became a belief that a great cycle of time consisted of 13 baktun, so the completion of a 13 baktun period was seen as having special significance. Regardless of theories or ideas with regards to that significance, the completion of a cycle such as a katun or baktun was seen as a time to be marked with ceremonies to welcome a new period. When the thirteenth baktun was completed in 2012, the corresponding long count date would have read 220.127.116.11.0 4 Ajpu 3 Kankin, although it is sometimes also represented as 0.0.0.0.0. One day later, 22nd December, would then be 0.0.0.0.1, twenty days later the first uinal is complete, giving 0.0.0.1.0 and then 360 days later, 16th December 2013, would mark the completion of the first tun, giving a long count date of 0.0.1.0.0
A new period begins today. We completed the fourth tun after the beginning of the new baktun yesterday. The new tun will always begin on an Ajpu day, and today on 10 Ajpu we mark this new tun. The long count date will become 0.0.5.0.0 (10 Ajpu 18 Ceh). Once again we see the turning over of a cycle, but this time it happens to occur on a day also referenced within the Dresden codex as the day of disappearance of the morning star. It is interesting to see two rather auspicious events occurring on the same day, and should be seen as a great time for a renewal.