A Matter of Time -- Part the Third

While the Egyptians succeeded in declaring their independence of the moon, the moon retaind a strong fascination. Many different peoples, including the Egyptians themselves, kept a lunar cycle to guide religious festivals and anniversaries. Even today, people dominated by their religion let themselves be governed by the cycles of the moon.

The Jews, for example, preserve their lunar calendar, and each Jewish month still begins with the appearance of the new moon. To keep their lunar calendar in step with the seasonal year, the Jews have added an extra month for each leap year, and the Jewish calendar has become the focus of esoteric rabbinical learning. The Jewish year was made to comprise twelve months each of 29 or 30 days, totaling some 354 days. In order to fill out the solar year, Jewish Leap years -- following the metonic cycle of Babylonia -- add an extra month in the third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth year of every nineteen-year period. Other adjustments are occasionally required to make festivals occur in their proper seasons -- for example, to ensure that Passover, the spring festival, will come after the vernal equinox.

Christianity also has kept to a lunar calendar -- "Moveable Feasts" in the Church were rearranged in the solar calendar because of the effort to keep festivals in step with the cycles of the moon. Easter is the most prominent example, being seton "the first Sunday after the Full Moon which happens upon, or next after, the Twenty-first day of March: And if the Full Moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday Thereafter." Therer are at least a dozen other Church festivals are fixed by reference to Easter and its lunar date, with the result that easter controls about seventeen weeks in the ecclesiastical calendar.

More to come...

Wanderer's picture

Islam also uses a pure lunar calendar, where each of the 12 lunar months comes about eleven days earlier each year.
Some jurisdictions also only date the start of the month to the actual observation of a thin crescent moon, others allow calculation to determine the start date. This means that the months may vary in length from place to place and some places celebrated holy days or fasts at different dates than others if the moon was obscured by clouds etc.

Interestingly, the pre-Islamic Arabs followed a calendar more like the Jewish one with an extra month inserted every so often to bring it back into line with the solar calendar, but the Koran said that this was incorrect and contrary to Allah's wishes.

thedisquietedpen's picture


how you are showing a history of time by going through the ages. I'm sure that does not translate into written words as eloquently as it is phrased in my head, but that's all I've got.

I enjoy reading about the history of time, while progressing through history.

Vayshe's picture


*resisting the urge to pick on christianity*

i spent all day at work fighting back a dissertation on how the early church moved their holidays around to detract from pagan ones

and i almost succeeded too.......

really i love these little mini lessons

ty professor Biggrin

Capriox's picture


The Christians in the crowd appreciate it Blum 3

Although to be fair, the ancient church organizers probably tied Easter to when it is to coincide with Passover (Passover = Last Supper). When it came to Jesus' birthday, though, I'm pretty sure that throwing darts at a calendar would've been just as doctrinally sound Wink

Vayshe's picture


detracting attention from yule Wink

note that theres a major coinciding christian holiday alongside every pagan one.

i was raised catholic. Wink

im not pagan, im not christian. im not picking on christianity or the christians here, believe me. its very long past history what the fathers of modern christianity did to try to bring other religions under their wing, but it was done.

Laureril's picture


Ever wonder why All-Saint's is November 1st? Having a midnight mass on Samhain probably seemed like a pretty good way to keep the half-hearted Christian nobility from skipping out on church to go attend pagan festivals.

I can't think of one for Beltaine, though... Maybe Easter... ish.

Gudy's picture


... with Ascension Day, date-wise. There doesn't seem to be a well-fitting Christian holiday for Beltaine, though. Easter is too early, Ascension and especially Pentecost are a bit late.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

There was no easy way to assimilate it, and yet the people celebrated it with determination, up to the present day. I think the church just threw up its hands and ignored it after a certain point.

Beltaine: The Official Holiday of MeiLinMiranda.com. Smile

ETA: Idea Next limited tee idea: "Kiss me, it's Neya's Day."

applejax's picture


I would definitely buy that tee Smile

Zandu Ink's picture


Kiss me. I'm Sairish.

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