Friday, January 1, 2021

Sun or Moon? Happy New Year


Happy New Year - today is full of hope for a healthier, happier, more settled and  more stable times. 

Today, we have had a grey day most unfitting for heralding a new beginning, but this afternoon, the skies are beginning to clear, just giving us a glimpse of better days ahead. 

Did you know 1 January wasn't always the beginning of the year ?  The first time New Year's Day was 1 January was 45 BC , based on solar calculations instead of lunar cycles. 

As the Roman Calendar needed reform, Julius Caesar enlisted the  experitse of an Alexandrian astronomer, Sosigenes,  who advised  ignoring  the lunar cycle  and  recommended  following  the solar year, as did the Egyptians. The year was calculated to be 365 and 1/4 days, and Caesar added 67 days to 46 B.C., making 45 B.C. begin on January 1, rather than in March. He also decreed that every four years a day be added to February, thus theoretically keeping his calendar from falling out of step. Even so, a slight miscalculation meant that by the middle ages,  an 11-minute-a-year error added seven days by the year 1000, and 10 days by the mid-15th century.

Enter  Pope Gregory XIII who commissioned Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius to correct the error and create a new calendar . In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was implemented, omitting 10 days for that year and establishing the new rule that only one of every four centennial years should be a leap year. Since then, people around the world have gathered en masse on January 1 to celebrate the precise arrival of the New Year.

Of course for millions of people around the world, the lunar calendar is still observed. The lunar cycle, with the smooth and constant changing of the moon night to night, formed the basis of many of the world's traditional calendars. The most common lunar calendar is probably the Hijri (Islamic) calendar. Most are actually lunisolar calendars, meaning they're lunar calendars with some adjustments to match the seasons and the solar year. Some lunisolar calendars include the Hebrew calendar, the Chinese calendar, the Hindu calendar, and the Vietnamese calendar. The Islamic Republic of Iran also uses a modified version of the Islamic calendar which is lunisolar. In fact, because many Christian holidays are based off of Jewish holidays, most Christians also follow some lunisolar traditions...

Whether you follow the sun or the moon, may your year be bright with clear skies and visions splendid.

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