CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico
(Reuters) - Thousands of mystics, hippies and tourists celebrated in the shadow of ancient Maya pyramids in southeastern Mexico on Friday as the Earth survived a day billed by doomsday theorists as the end of the world.
New Age dreamers, alternative lifestyle gurus and curious onlookers from around the world descended on the ruins of Maya cities to mark the close of the 13th bak'tun - a period of around 400 years - in the Maya Long Calendar.
Dismissing a widely disseminated myth that the Maya had predicted some kind of apocalypse on December 21, 2012, they celebrated what they hope is the start of a new and better era for humanity.
After the sun rose in Mexico and the world continued to spin, the visitors to the Maya heartland gave thanks.
"I just feel love for everybody and I just feel reverent," said Stacey Gill, a 27-year-old radio show assistant from North Carolina dressed all in white. "I feel completely at peace and in stillness. Today I feel it in full force."
The end of the 13th bak'tun in the 5,125-year-old Maya calendar had inspired pockets of fear around the world that the end was nigh or that lesser catastrophes lay in store.
A U.S. scholar said in the 1960s that the end of the 13th bak'tun could be seen as a kind of Armageddon for the Maya. Over time, the idea snowballed into a belief by some that the Maya calendar had predicted the Earth's destruction.
Fears of mass suicides, huge power cuts, natural disasters, epidemics or an asteroid hurtling toward Earth had circulated on the Internet, especially in recent months.
In the end, there were no reports of natural or man-made catastrophes linked to the doomsday predictions.
To the people congregating in the imposing ruins of the city of Chichen Itza, a focal point for the celebrations in Mexico, it was a day for celebrations.
"It's not the end of the world, it's an awakening of consciousness and good and love and spirituality - and it's been happening for a while."