Well, we find ourselves in a brand new year, 2013. In terms of the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used calendar system in the world, we are now in the thirteenth year of the third millennium, denoted both as C.E. (Common Era) and A.D. (Anno Domini).
In Chinese culture, specifically their zodiac, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. It is relative to those born (at least in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries) in the following years: 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, and 2013. Being born in the Year of the Snake symbolizes being analytical (non-impulsive), materialistic, creative, problem solvers; preferring calm and steadiness over chaos and frenetic situations; and keeping feelings to themselves.
While most of us acknowledge this year as 2013, other calendars from various cultural traditions numerically mark this year differently. Some examples are the Juche calendar of North Korea and the Minguo calendar of China, both of which designate this year as 102; the Hebrew calendar denotes this year as 5773 (changing in September, not next January); and the Holocene calendar (which begins at 10,000 B.C.) marks this year as 12013.
In addition to all of that information, I am able to write this because we are all still here. The doomsday that was supposed to be December 21, 2011, did not happen. (Big surprise.) After roughly two years of heightened hubbub about that late-December date, the Earth started off intact, and ended the same. I always understood it -- in terms of "the world as we know it will end" -- as a beginning of a mass shift in consciousness, a kind of attitudinal, perceptual, and beliefs-based paradigm shift. (Yes, new agey, I know, but hey, I think we need a paradigm shift.) Of course nothing of the kind took place on that very day. Such a large-scale shift would not and could not happen on one singular day...unless H.G. Wells was right about Martians. The whole Maya calendar phenomenon is explained well in this video from NASA, titled Why the World Didn't End Yesterday, and ironically released before December 21, 2012.
The Maya mindset was of marking time and the continuation of time, not the ending of it. In fact, there is nothing with regard to the Maya calendar, or anything in Maya prophecies, that even deals with the end of time. According to Maya priest and historian Carlos Barrios, Maya elders have viewed December 21, 2012 as a rebirth.
So, we have a new year filled with twelve months of new opportunities to create a new paradigm, if we so choose. Twelve months of opportunities to make new friends, to learn new skills, and to possibly go in new directions in our own lives. It can also be a time to take stock of ourselves -- the proverbial looking in the mirror -- and to reassess, to see ourselves in a new way...or perhaps to collectively see ourselves as we used to centuries ago. That, too, is key to a much-needed paradigm shift.
Or we could just say, "Eh, it's just another year."