Welcome 2023

Do you have your new calendar for the brand-spanking new year of 2023? Someone said we do NOT want to “reboot” the old year, nor the years of 2020 or 2021….

Calendars used to be just pretty pictures on the wall; then, they became the despot of family lives and activities. I remember living by my “Daytimer,” and even using colored pencils to rank items on the “To Do” list. I was motivated to articulate “Goals” and “Objectives,” years in advance. Truly, I often felt chained to my calendar, and could not function without checking it on a daily (hourly?) basis. Today, the calendar is digitalized, available in the palm of my hand, on my phone, anytime, anywhere, just to make life simpler (really?). However, I still maintain a printed calendar, on my desk, that is my constant companion. Maybe it makes me feel more secure…..

In the ancient civilizations, calendar years were created with respect to agriculture:  they noted seasons of planting and seasons of harvest, seasons of dryness, and seasons of rain. In addition, calendars were created with respect to the movements of the universe (solar and lunar calendars). Later, religious groups formed their own liturgical calendars (Jewish and Islamic, for example), which included distinctive special religious (“holy”) days and months which deeply affected the way humans lived. We still have liturgical calendars for worship in Christian churches today.

Most familiar to us is the ancient Roman calendar which was lunar in nature, with a 29 ½ -day month. So, it had to be adjusted to have variable 29- or 30-day months. But, in this scheme, 12 of these lunar months fell 10 or 11 days short of the solar calendar. Oooops. Then, the Julian calendar was created, which was reformed by Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus Caesar in the late first century BC.

The Roman Republic calendar was adjusted to include the ancient Greek calendar; and later, it was adjusted again to create the Gregorian calendar. The elite leaders who ruled the Roman Republic adjusted their calendars by the power of the consulships. That is, they eventually abused their power by lengthening months and years to control their political allies, and shortening years during their enemies’ time in office. Caesar enacted a calendar reform in 46 BC, making his consulship last 446 days!  What if our government did that today??  

No one could print a calendar in those days because dates and months and years were so malleable. In fact, by the 16th century, the common date for Easter had shifted so far away from the vernal equinox that Pope Gregory XIII ordered an adjusted calendar, known as the Gregorian calendar. Today, what would we do if the church leaders suddenly decided to change the calendar and our religious holidays at their pleasure?? I think the Brits may have it right to move a Harvest Day, a day of Thanksgiving, to October. And we could skip Halloween altogether….That would really mess up all the retailers!

Seriously, there is something refreshing about opening a new calendar, and seeing all the blank squares just waiting to be filled with events, celebrations, appointments….and self-imposed work deadlines…..

So, on the cusp of a clean, bright new year, start something new.  Create something fresh. Throw something away. Give something away to someone who needs it more than you do. Watch a bird; enjoy a sunset. Breathe. Put on your calendar, “Do something spontaneous!”

Happy 2023.

Author: Judy

Christian educator, writer, specializing in the New Testament

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