Jose Natividad Ic Xec, a native Mayan living in Merida, the capital of Yucatan in Mexico where the Mayan civilization once thrived, has dedicated his life to promote his culture and tradition. Xec explains what the doomsday prophecy really means for his compatriots.
What does Dec. 21 mean to the Mayan people?
For Mayans living in Yucatan, this date means nothing. Like anyone else, we spend that day thinking about what we are going to eat, about our jobs or how the next few months will be for us. This date was only conceived as a stage in a calendar marking the end of 13 baktuns [a baktun is a period of 394 years, or 144,000 days]. And so, it's just the end of an era in a calendar.
The end-of-the-world prophecy is all fantasy?
People speak of a revolution in human consciousness, a new light that will shine upon the world. Believers talk of some kind of transformation and will gather at the Mayan pyramids to perform some kind of ritual. But all of this is not attributed to the Maya, we really don't care about it -- on the contrary, it makes us laugh. Our people know little about the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar. The only thing we know is that the date Dec. 22 marks an end in the calendar, but people are using the date Dec. 21 because it is the solstice and thus a more memorable date.
Then why is the date such a big deal?
Experts claim that the 13th baktun is a good opportunity for people to make a profit out of those who believe. And if those faithful genuinely believe in it, they would be frightened; they would look for a bunker or think about a plan of survival. So this end of the world talk is only a bit of fun.
You use social networks to promote your culture. How popular is Chilam Balam [Xec's blog based on the Mayan historical document allegedly containing prophecies]?
It's a concept that I started two years ago, first on Twitter and Facebook, then on a blog, which I hope will continue to grow. On my website, I publish stories on Mayan culture and its characteristics.
Do you have any plans to mark the Mayan event?
Yes, on Dec. 21 and 22, I will be doing live broadcasts from [ancient Mayan civilization site] Chichen Itza. I will be chatting to Mayans who live in the area ... and other experts who have worked their whole lives to promote Mayan culture.
Jose Natividad Ic Xec
Born: Peto, a Mayan village in Mexican state Yucatan
Background: Parents were Mayan speakers; grew up speaking Mayan and later learned Spanish; at the end of secondary school moved to Merida, where he currently resides; worked at the Diario de Yucatan newspaper for 17 years; also studied philosophy and theology at the Seminario Conciliar de Yucatan