Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year (version 1)

Aucklund, NZ New Year fireworks

Times Square crowd

According to today's version of Wikipedia:

"In 45 BC, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which continued to use 1 January as the first day of the new year..."

"The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today. It was... decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was named, on 24 February 1582...

"It is a reform of the Julian calendar and continues the year numbering system of the Julian calendar, counting years from the traditional Incarnation of Jesus. Years after this date are given the designation "anno Domini" (AD), or "Common Era" (CE); years before this date are labeled "before Christ" (BC), or "Before the Common Era" (BCE)..."

["The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke place Jesus' birth under the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC/BCE, although the Gospel of Luke also describes the birth as taking place during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judaea in 6 AD/CE..."]

"Though the Anno Domini dating system was devised in 525, it was not until the 8th century that the system began to be adopted in Western Europe... In 1422, Portugal became the last Western European country to adopt the Anno Domini system.

"Year numbering using the Anno Domini system (or its alternative Common Era (CE) designation) is the most widespread numbering system in the world today, including numbering of decades, centuries, and millennia. It is a de facto standard as used by international agencies such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union. Its preeminence is a consequence of the European colonisation of the other continents, thus spreading the Gregorian calendar..."

One of my ancestors "lost" one of his birthdays because, "Britain and the British Empire (including the eastern part of what is now the United States) adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 by which time it was necessary to correct by 11 days. Wednesday, 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday, 14 September 1752..."

That change is also the key to the trick question about George Washington's actions on September 10, 1752.

The ubiquity of the Gregorian calendar is demonstrated by headlines like this from Al Arabiya: New Year cancelled across Arab, Muslim world

"New Year events scheduled to take place in Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan and many other parts of the Arab world have been either postponed or cancelled..."

On a fictional note, today is also the first of Ick [which] is Hogswatchday in Disk World (created by Sir Terry Pratchett). The 32nd of December is the Disc's New Year, and the winter solstice from the perspective of Ankh-Morpork. In the Astronomical Year the second midwinter (the year's midway point) is called Crueltide, but to people using the Agricultural Year this is the same festival."


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