I read in this morning's paper that the Houston Museum of Natural Science is launching an exhibit about the Mayan culture. The curators are hoping that this will help demystify the Mayan world view and decrease the panic-talk about the "end date" of December 21, 2012.
There's a really cool website associated with this exhibit. If you're interested in exploring it, click here.
The article goes on to explain that the Mayan calendar is cyclical in nature, and that the whole idea of an "end date" comes from the Christian West, where the concept of doomsday and apocalyptic endings are part of the Christian teachings. In the Mayan world view, December 21, 2012 is the last day of a large cycle of time. The next day, when the sun rises again and life goes on, marks the beginning of a new cycle.
In other words, it's pretty safe to go Christmas shopping.