Lighthearted thoughts on the origin of calendars and the New Year
| is the first day of the year. I have spent quite a few conversations in the last few day of 2007 pontificating on time and calendars. It seems I have been quite entranced by the idea that the Gregorian calendar is not very accurate. I have even gone so far as to announce certain conclusions which people have no idea how to react to and may mark me once again as something of a mad female hatter.
On Saturday, two days before New Year's Eve, I decided to research the Celtic New Year on the internet. It seems the Celtic New year coincides with our Halloween, and it is known as Samhain (pronounced Sow-ven).
The Celtic calendar is cyclical in nature, not linear. I have no problem with this, it makes sense to me, because I feel that sometime between my twenty fifth and twenty sixth year, time began to move in a circle for me. This was a matter of great emotional crisis, and I spent years, as I still do, trying to see time as a straight line, like a good American. Whether time should move in a circle or on a straight line may seem to some to be immaterial, however it was of great importance to me, as circular motion goes nowhere, round and round like hamster wheel, while a straight line has the potential of bringing you from point A to point B, in which case you may feel you are getting somewhere in life.So, while I was going in circles, everyone I knew seemed to be moving ahead from one goal to the next, and actually creating a past, a present and a future. This induced in me great frustration, and I spent hours drawing timelines, months, years, days in straight lines going from left to right, right to left, north to south, etc., attempting to force my brain to break the circle and bend it into a razor sharp straight edge. A friend trying to help suggested I even convert my time concepts from circles to spirals. This suggestion floored me, for the thought of plotting goals on a never ending upward or downward spirals seemed much more complicated and harder to manage than my simple wheel of time.
I also discovered that July and August were imaginary creations instituted by the Roman emperors Julius and Augustus, who both decided they should have their own months. This meant that there were originally only ten months, as manifested by their names, October (eighth), November (ninth) and December (tenth).
Of course, the Celtic and other ancient, pagan calendars were based on something very real, which is the natural world. The holidays coincided with the seasons, and the seasons were based on the movements of the earth, the sun, the moon, the planets and the stars. So while the Gregorian calendar which we use claims there are thirty to thirty one days in a month, the ancients simpy based their months on the waxing and waning of the moon, which is twenty eight days.
Given that, when following nature, there are only ten months in the year and each month has twenty eight days, not thirty or thirty one, its logical to conclude that nobody really knows what year it is, and we may very well be a few years behind or ahead, depending on when time actually began, which really makes things complicated, because that dilemma is under heavy scrutiny from our physicists, who don't want to offend creationists but don't want to appear stupid either.
Just one other thing to really stimulate some thought: if time truly is cyclical, years don't have any beginning or end. This would imply that whether you celebrate the new year in September, October, January or March, you are just choosing a day according to your fantasy.
Which brings me to this final point. Every day can be construed to be a new year's day.
Let me get back to my doodling. If you look at time as linear, you are apt to be more productive. If you look at time as cyclical, you are more in tune with nature. If you look at time as Einstein did after a lifetime of mental gymnastics, you conclude that there really is no such thing as past present or future, and everything is happening now, time is coordinate and actually does not exist.
For simplicity sake I have decided this year I will perceive of time as a line originating from the right and proceeding left through the warp of January first into the brave new world of 2008 which will continue in a straight line ad infinitum due east from New York City.
That way I will get something done. But I am sure, every twenty eight days when I look up and see the full moon, it will get me thinking.