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...