2012, Happy New Year?

January got me thinking about how quickly time passes. A century speeds by, taking us from one world to the next. And most of us attach some meaning to time and this thing we call the “calendar.”  

Do you realize that it was a century ago, in 1912, when Jim Thorpe won the gold medal in the pentathlon and the decathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm?  Also referred to as the “world’s greatest athlete” and Wa-tho-huck (Bright Path), people are still talking about Thorpe today, the Olympic and football hero who also played baseball for awhile. He is from the Sac and Fox Nation (Oklahoma). 

Can any of you remember the days when NM was not a state in the Union? It was Jan 6, 1912, when New Mexico was admitted as the 47th state. Also in 1912, the Navajo Fair was held in Shiprock, NM, showcasing about $20,000 worth of Navajo blankets.

This century — 2012 in particular — holds controversial meaning for many peoples and groups. The buzz of TV programming about December 22, 2012 being the end of the world as we know it has dramatically increased over the past year and recent months. No one knows what, if anything, will occur in 2012 to change the world. But it’s interesting to note that no one can be sure when “December 22” really is or when the “new year” starts.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

The [Gregorian] calendar now in general worldwide use had its origin in the desire for a solar calendar that kept in step with the seasons and possessed fixed rules of intercalation [dating methods]. Because the solar calendar developed in Western Christendom, it had also to provide a method for dating movable religious feasts, the timing of which were based on a lunar reckoning. To reconcile the lunar and solar, features of the Gregorian calendar combined features of the Roman republican calendar and the Egyptian calendar.

In other words, a solar calendar is about 365 and 1/4 days, the time it takes for the earth to make a complete orbit of the sun. A lunar calendar is about 12.37 complete cycles of the moon (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds on average). Thus, for a lunar calendar to be in sync with a solar calendar (aka seasonal year), a periodic adjustment of calendar days is needed and ancient rulers took great liberties with this.

The Gregorian calendar adopted in 1582 marks January 1 as the new year, and continues on with the precepts of the Roman calendar. But the start date or origin of the Roman calendar had more to do with the founding of the city of Rome, and it fell out of sync with the seasons. Had the Roman solar calendar remained in use, January 14 would have marked the new year.

In between the Gregorian and the Roman calendars, there was also the Julian calendar. Adopted in 46 BC by Julius Caesar, it had a solar year of 12 months and 365 days with an extra day every fourth year. But, the year known as 46 BC was adjusted to bring the calendar into step with the equinoxes by adding 67 days (or 2 months) between the end of November and the beginning of December. This caused what would have been March 45 BC to fall on what marked the beginning of the Julian calendar. So is March the new year?  The Julian calendar also made the year slightly too long and by the mid-1500s, it was off by about 10 days. To correct this in the Gregorian calendar, Pope Gregory XIII dropped Oct 5-14 and omitted leap years that fell on century years (not divisible by 400, such as 1700, 1800, 1900). This was not random though; it restored the vernal equinox (then March 11) to March 21 (the date it held in 325 AD) and the time of the first ecumenical council — and not to the date of the equinox at the time of the birth of Christ (noted then as March 25).  

And there’s more… Even before 46 BC, the Egyptian solar or luni-solar calendar marked the new year by the appearance of a star that coincided with the annual flooding of the Nile (a day that varied from year to year). It was based on 365 days, and in 237 BC, Ptolemy III Euergetes added one day every 4 years to account for the 1/4 day a year overlooked by the Egyptian calendar. 

The Roman calendar was most probably based on the Greek lunar calendar, which may have been in use as early as 8th century BC. But, the Greeks used several different dating systems that attempted to combine the lunar year (12 phases of the moon, 354 days) and the solar year (365 days). Months began on the new moon, and every 8 years the Greeks added 3 extra months to keep in sync with the seasons. The Greeks’ most cited Athenian calendar began its new year on the first new moon after the summer solstice (which we know as June 21).

We rely critically on the marking of time, but the history of calendars is confusing. We had solar calendars and lunar calendars and ancient rulers who randomly added and subtracted days so that the sun and moon would appear to be in sync for their religious and political purposes. So what day is new year? I can’t say. The only thing I can say for sure is that today is “the present moment.”

Later this week, I will be posting another topic about the use of ancient and tribal calendars and how they link to 2012 prophecy.

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  1. Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I am confused with the moon months?
    The months were named such as freezing ice moon, planting moon, harvest moon, etc. I know I have misnamed them, but my question is that in like 10 years there would be about 140 days difference and freezing ice moon which I think was November or December would be in the middle of the summer and the harvest moon would be in the middle of winter! How were the moons adjusted to keep them in line with nature?

    • Posted December 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Ron, thanks for your question. Different tribes had different names for the moons, and I think the bigger point is that Native Americans lived in harmonious alignment with Nature and the land rather than calendar or clock time. Perhaps the whole point is honoring that all things come in Nature’s time… that the winter moon appears when Nature says it’s winter … regardless of how we name the moon or season.

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