What I have in common with the Babylonians

The calendar causes me stress.

It’s the start of a new year. A time when we make resolutions. We say (or at least I do), “This year will be different!”

Lose weight, get fit. Better balance between work and life. Tackle projects. Get things done.

But it’s January. It’s cold and grey. There’s snow on the ground and more falling. My car is encased in ice. All I want to do is stay indoors, curl ed up in front of a fire. I want to each chocolates and mac and cheese and porridge. I don’t want to go outside. I want to hibernate.

Animals know this makes sense. So why do we start the year in January? Why not start in the spring when the earth is coming back to life? When the weather is beginning to warm? When the days are getting longer? When I’m starting to think about what I look like in shorts?

Since I was lounging, I decided to do some research on calendars. I’m not going to attempt to cover everything I found. It’s far more complex than I imagined.

I already knew that much of the world follows the Gregorian calendar which grew out of the Julian calendar. But there’s so much more. There are numerous calendars based on mathematical calculations, on the seasons, on the rotation of the sun, on the lunar cycle, on religion, on the reign of an emperor. Even on a deck of playing cards. There have been attempts (one by the United Nations in the 1950s) to change the current calendar system. But people seem pretty happy with what we’ve got. What I noticed, though, about most of the calendars I came across (and I don’t pretend for a moment that I reviewed them all) is that they start in January or in winter.

Now a calendar is just a way to keep track of a cycle of time. I was thinking about time cycles because of a project in which I’m involved. I’m a union representative on a joint labour-management committee which is revamping a performance management and staff development process at work. The process wasn’t working. In fact, it was almost universally despised. So we’re fixing it.

Thia process is intended to run in an annual cycle with meetings between staff and management at different points along the way. It’s always been conducted against a fiscal year. But that’s created some major workload issues for certain departments. The timing was terrible. So does it have to run on the same cycle for everyone? Could it be a calendar year? Or a project year? Or a programming year? Turns out, it can. So we have introduced cycle flexibility. In other words, each department can run the process according to whichever cycle makes the most sense! Brilliant, don’t you think?

Which leads me to cycle flexibility for the calendar. I would like to start the year in March. The Spring equinox to be exact.

The Babylonians of 2,000 BC  agreed with me.  Their New Year began on the first new moon after the first day of spring. The Romans too celebrated their New Year in late March. That is, until Julius Caesar came along and made January 1st the start of the year.

Of course I recognize that we can’t all be on a different system. There would be chaos. And one person’s summer can be another’s winter. So I suppose this is something I will have to do for myself. I wonder if I can get my family on board. One small step for me…

And now, a song from the Dutch Rhythmn and Show Band:

That was almost enough to get me off the sofa and dancing.

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About saxbergonstuff

I'm a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie. When I'm not focusing on that, I'm an educator, facilitator and content designer. When I feel like it.
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2 Responses to What I have in common with the Babylonians

  1. You Tube.
    The Mayans and Aztecs were in their scary period back when they were planning calendars. Also, isn’t their calendar predicting the end of the world soon? I don’t want to know.

  2. Audrey Saxbert says:

    Where on earth did you find the Dutch Rhythm and Show band?
    And when did the Maya and Aztecs start their calendar?

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