Now that we have all finished celebrating the beginning of a random day in a random year, in the middle of nowhere in the revolution of our Sun, around we- don’t- know- what- spot in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, (which takes it 230 million years to make one complete orbit around), maybe we can spend five minutes on reflection and contemplation of the calendar.
What is a calendar anyway? It is a time keeper on a day scale really, so it is just a reeeally slow clock in a way. Humans probably started to figure out ways to measure time around the time they settled into agriculture. (As an aside, there is a recent book I heard of where the author claims that agriculture was the biggest mistake of the human race! )
In any case, that would have been when the women needed to figure out when to sow and when to reap and when they could expect to have food available. (They were probably the first farmers while the men continued to hunt for a while till the transition was complete). Thus the annual cycles of summer/ rain/ winter may have been noticed and used to plan the farming.
Eventually we got more refined and started being able to measure the hours in the day and the minutes in an hour. The earliest ‘clocks’ have been around since 2000 BC.
It is very interesting that despite having ten digits on our fore and hind limbs, we use 12 as the unit of measurement.
I found this article a bit confusing but apparently if we had 8 fingers instead of 10 things would be counted differently!
We have now progressed so much that we even have an atomic clock which can calculate to the 1/1000th of a second or something which I imagine is useful only to children who always want to claim being older than an annoying cousin by just such a small measurable amount!
Once heliocentrism was more or less accepted universally, we also managed to figure out that a full circle around the Sun takes us 365 days give or take a wobble here and there. From that to the Mayan calendar, zodiac signs and eventually Nostradamus was just short leap!
Hindus have a lunar/ solar mixed calendar and do consider Diwali as the beginning of a new year and the Chinese also use the lunar calendar and celebrate their new year sometime in February.
The 1st Jan that we all celebrate so joyfully is for a month named after the Roman god Janus ( who is the god of beginnings and transitions). The date is from the Gregorian calendar of the Pope Gregory.
If this isn’t a reminder of the sustained legacy of the hegemony of the global north then I don’t know what is!
Having said that, if the current insanity of radical Hindutva continues, India may well follow Nepal is shifting to the Hindu calendar which is currently in the year 2074.
Of course, no matter which way we count it and on which day we declare a new year, the idea behind it is one of renewal and out with the old and in with the new.
The old must give way to the new. But of course it doesn’t always happen and in the medical field or the NGO field, nor in corporate sector (nor sometimes in families where the head of the family, usually the oldest man continues to bully everyone into doing what he thinks is best for them). There are very rare leaders who plan to transition out and mentor the next generation of leaders. Most people cling on to power and control like grim death.
This year we also kept a happy/funny memories jar in the dining room. We opened the jar on 31st Dec and it was fun to reminisce and relive the highlights of 2017.
Did you make any resolutions? I think Calvin had the right idea 🙂
But it is probably always a good idea to aim to read more good books/articles, listen to more old favourite songs, travel more, stay in touch with friends ( old and new).
Meet your parents, spend more time with your kids (they really do grow up simply too fast), be kinder, donate more of your time/ money/ expertise to those who have less than you, learn something new every day/ week whether it is a word or a poem or a fact or a recipe, exercise regularly, eat healthy, feel less guilty, carpe diem and all that jazz.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t do it regularly, do it whenever you can.
After all, as my school Principal used to say –‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life!’