Days and ConfusedWritten by Jim Ellis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems that every year I find myself actually musing over something calendric, or would that be calendrial… calendrical? Supercalifragilistic… oh, sorry.
This year, I overheard an argument at a local bookstore over a calendar. This fellow had bought a new calendar and had, apparently, began to mark days of personal significance before he realized there was something not quite right.
“Sunday’s in the wrong place,” he complained.
Most of us never think about our calendars at all, with the exception of buying one each year, and even then, we think about the art work (kittens or bunnies?), but a few calendar makers have started to produce calendars that reflect the way the week really is. I got a “Monday first” calendar myself a couple of years back.
As for our friend, the store was unwilling to return his money. The calendar was accurate, if unorthodox.
Our week starts Monday, but the traditional calendar runs from Sunday to Saturday. Christians adopted Sunday, first day of the week, as their day of rest. Combined with the Jewish Sabbath, we get two days off… that, my friends, is progress!! But that meant the New Testament and Old Testament weekends were bookends, putting the beginning of the week in the middle.
But any attempt to move the weekend to the end of the week is going to leave many of us as confused as our friend in the bookstore. How dare they move the end of the week to the end of the calendar?
For me, it isn’t the week’s order that bothers me as much as the names of the days.
Naming days actually dates back to the Egyptians, who named the 5 spare days slapped at the end of the year (each month had 30 days), so the seven day week needed 2 more names. The first two days are obvious—Sun and Moon, then Norse Gods: Tiw (War) Woden (Odin, the chief) Thor (Thunder) Freya (Goddess), and Saturn.
Saturn? Whether you mean the Roman god of agriculture, our sixth sister planet, or a car, could somebody tell me how it ended up in an Anglo-Saxon Calendar? Why worship pagans anyway. Name the days after what they represent NOW. Grumbling (Monday), Hump Day (Wed), College ID (Thursday), TGIF, Day Off (Saturday), Football (Sunday). Sure, people are going to complain… I just gave you 52 grumble days a year… sheesh!
And, hey, while we’re making changes…
I’m sure Julius Caesar, Pope Gregory XIII, or the guy who wrote his Bull (no, really, that’s what the Roman Church calls them) had perfectly reasonable reasons to start the year on January 1, but I cannot find one, and I think it would make better sense to start the year the old fashioned way—on the first day of spring. Until 1752, England and their American colonies began their year on March 25.
We should get right on this. When Julius Caesar established his new calendar, the resultant shifting made 46 BC over 400 days in length. This “year to end all confusion” became more accurately known the year of confusion. For us, with 2008 being an election year…