Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Calendar girl

I've been thinking about it for a while, and I've decided that I really don't like the Roman calendar that we use. It's utterly meaningless. I think it was poor decision making that made the Roman calendar the one most widely used, and I blame the Catholic church! I mean, get a load of the brilliance behind it:

"The Romans borrowed parts of their earliest known calendar from the Greeks. The calendar consisted of 10 months in a year of 304 days. The Romans seem to have ignored the remaining 61 days, which fell in the middle of winter. The 10 months were named Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. The last six names were taken from the words for five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. Romulus, the legendary first ruler of Rome, is supposed to have introduced this calendar in the 700's B.C.E.

According to tradition, the Roman ruler Numa Pompilius added January and February to the calendar. This made the Roman year 355 days long. To make the calendar correspond approximately to the solar year, Numa also ordered the addition every other year of a month called Mercedinus. Mercedinus was inserted after February 23 or 24, and the last days of February were moved to the end of Mercedinus. In years when it was inserted, Mercedinus added 22 or 23 days to the year."

Uhhhh...yeah, inserting a MONTH every other year seems like the best way to solve the problem. Crikey! This means their seasons weren't even always starting in the same months.

They did have a good idea, early on:
"At the time of their early kings, Roman months were of a length identical to the lunar cycle. Each month was divided into sections that ended on the day of one of the first three phases of the moon: new, first quarter or full. All days were referred to in terms of one of these three moon phase names, Kalends, Nones or Ides."

So, anyways, I wish we had a good lunar calendar. Or I guess the correct term is lunisolar calendar, as that takes into account both the lunar cycles for months and the revolution around the sun for years. I prefer meaningful measures of time, and I think that being in touch with the lunar cycle would be a good way for us to be more in tune with nature. I'm sure that a big factor behind the adoption and spread of the Roman calendar by the Catholic church was that it was NOT that firmly attached to nature, and the church liked that as it was another way to separate themselves from the pagans (nature worshippers). Personally, I think we could do a little better to have a bit more of a nature worshipful attitude. Perhaps then we would take our stewardship more responsibly and not have quite the extent of environmental problems that we see today.


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Caroline said...

I agree that a calendar based on the lunar system would be great. The older I get, the more I am starting to appreciate nature and wish that our LDS church focused more on being good stewards of the earth and its animals.