Friday, January 2, 2009

Exactly When is New Year's Day?

The importance of the turning of the year has been part of human life for centuries, even though the time the changing of the year is observed has changed. Reason would tell us that the beginning of Spring-the Vernal Equinox--would be the logical date to celebrate a new year because life returns to nature at that time. The Romans actually celebrated the year's beginning on March 1.

Wikipedia provides a lengthy and intriguing look at the development of our current calendar.

Did you know:
  • The calendar we use now is called the Gregorian calendar, developed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582?

  • a 13-century-long error in calculations was corrected by adding one day (February 30th) in 1712?

  • the world uses several different calendars, and some of the calendars are occasionally adjusted to account for all sorts of problems encountered as time progressed? Others do not adjust so the differences in the measure of time grow with each passing day.

  • some countries still use the Julian calendar (developed by Julius Caesar and also called the Roman calendar) which is currently behind the Gregorian calendar by about 13 days?

(image from

Depending on where you live or your religious faith, you may celebrate New Year's at a different time than those who follow the predominante calendar (the Gregorian calendar, developed as a modification of the Julian calendar). One could, I suppose, just cover all bases by celebrating with each culture, calendar and time zone.
Now that would be a party.


Carol said...

Where DO you come up with such interesting information all the time? I love reading your blog. Just wish I lived close enough to hear your story-telling. Maybe you should record to DVD - I'm sure that your body language and expressions are a great part of your stories.
Keep the fun coming.

Granny Sue said...

Something I hear or read will catch my interest, Carol, and I'll start looking for more information, both online and in books. Keyword searches often bring surprising results and send me off on other trails.

For this post, I was actually looking for information about Old Christmas and its exact date. My mother called it "Little Christmas" but I could not remember if it was January 5th or 6th because I always get it crossed with thr December date for St. Nicholas Day. Looking for that date led to all sorts of fascinating information, which I've divided between this post and one which I should have ready by Sunday.

I guess it's a cross between being a librarian, a storyteller, the daughter of a woman who observed many old English customs, and not having a TV so I have time to ruminate on things a little more.

You're right about storytelling--often body language, facial expression, gestures, eye contact, and pauses/timing play important roles in telling a story. The same story told on a CD is different than the live-performance story because the immediateness to the audience is missing--and there's no oppportunity for spontaneity when recorded. Often when telling, some recent event, something someone said prior to performance time, the place I'm performing, etc can play into the stories I tell, creating a bridge between me and the audience in a way that is difficult to describe--we end up as a community with a shared experience. It's very powerful.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that would be a party! And likely my comely young spouses final undoing... Once a year is probably more than enough.

Wish I had been there! I have already scheduled next New Years.


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