Thursday, 2 February 2017

2nd February 2017 - Candlemas and Lunar Calendars

Thought for the day:"Laughing at your mistakes can lengthen your life - laughing at your wife's can shorten it.."

A friend posted this today - I repeat it -
Today (2nd Feb) is Candlemas, or the Feast of the Presentation; we have finally reached the end of the Christmas/Epiphany season. (Unless, of course, you're Eastern Orthodox, in which case you won't get to the 2nd of February until the 15th, because calendars.) If you somehow didn't take your decorations down by Epiphany you can do it today without fear of bad luck :)

In some (mostly French-influenced) areas it's apparently traditional to eat pancakes, so if you're pondering what to have for dinner, there you go.

After today we're into "Ordinary Time" as far as the western liturgical calendar goes, which doesn't so much mean "normal time" as "counted time" - basically it is padding in the calendar because we're about to flip from solar to lunar calculation. Really dodgy lunar calculation, I might add. (Did I rant about that yet? I forget. I have so many 'heresies' already that having one about the date of Easter seems practically de rigeur..)

Of course January 28th was Chinese New Year, which actually makes it New Year in a number of other places as well, hence also being known as Lunar New Year - but that then risks confusion with various other lunar calendars, which is most of them.

One interesting thing about the Chinese/Lunar calendar is that it's cyclic rather than linear in the counting of years - ie, this year isn't [last year + 1] but instead is the next year in a sixty-year cycle. I suspect there's some interesting comparative philosophical point to be made here, but I don't consider myself at all qualified to discuss it. IF, however, the Chinese/Lunar calendar DID count years lineally then this would be considered the 47th or 48th century.

Another interesting thing about this year in particular is that it's a leap year in the Chinese/Lunar calendar. Unlike the Gregorian and Julian calendars, this doesn't mean 'insert an extra day' - if you think about it, that would throw the lunar cycle off - but 'insert an extra month.' This is pretty much ubiquitous among lunisolar calendars (ie: those which count months but also track the year). In this case the year tracked is the tropical year (as determined by equinoxes / solstices). By contrast, Hindu lunar calendars track the sidereal year (as determined by position of the sun against the stars), the Hebrew calendar does its own complicated calculation which is generally somewhere in between the two, and the Islamic calendar is purely lunar and does not give a flying fig what the sun is getting up to.

 (thanks Kit Wilson)

For my own accounts try here

Maenwhile I am back from a flying visit to Edinburgh - piccie smaybve tomorrow..

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