Monday 31 October 2011

Reforming the calendar, Hobbit style


Thirteen lunar months of 28 days with one day left over and given its own name - say New Year's Day, or Christmas Day.

Every Leap Year, add another Leap Year's Day.


Each date would then fall on the same weekday every year: many diary makers would go out of business.


This system is (more or less) the one used by Shire Hobbits (according to the Appendices of Lord of the Rings); and was also 'discovered', or inferred, or at least claimed to be that of the pre-Roman ancient Britons by Robert Graves, in The White Goddess.



Daniel said...

The diary-makers would have to find a whole new reason to make their products year-specific. This wouldn't be that hard, and the results might be quite beautiful. I've always liked the Chinese concept of different years having different animals/characteristics/omens associated with them.

I don't propose adopting the Chinese system (though some could, for fun). But there is a long history in the West of dating years from significant events. Aside from the obvious Anno Domini dating, people colloquially speak about years in terms of historical events. "250 years since the Declaration of Independence," in America, for instance, or more pathetically, "Ten years since 9/11." And the French Revolution calendar comes to mind.

Those might not be the most inspiring examples, but there are other more lovely possibilities. Native Seattleites all still remember the Great Inaugural Day Storm of 1993 (the day in January of that year that Bill Clinton took office). Winds, rains, snow, power-outages, landslides. Epic weather. How charming it would be to buy a local calendar, locally made, that acknowledged the "real" year and yet also mentioned local lore and even dated things from those moments of import. Storms, local sports triumphs or defeats, unseasonable beautiful days. Imagine!

This week has been (as I put it to a friend recently) heart-breakingly beautiful in the Pee-Enn-Dub (as we call it... PNW... Pacific NorthWest). Next year's calendar ought to say, "One year ago this week... lovely northern light, autumn colors, a brisk wind off of Puget Sound). The Hobbits would understand.

Wm Jas said...

Wouldn't that extra day (or two days on leap years) mean that each date would not fall on the same weekday every year?

Bruce Charlton said...

@D - thanks for that.

@Wm - Maybe I did not express myself properly.

Oct 31 2011 is a Monday - Oct 31 2012 (a Leap Year) is Wednesday.

If two days were removed from the months (and named New Year's Day and Leap Year Day) - then Oct 31 2012 would be a Monday, just like this year.

And Oct 31 would always be a Monday.

(Except that with a lunar calander, there would be thirteen instead of twelve months.)

Anonymous said...

I like your idea - it is very "neat".

I still don't know how many days each month has and always find myself asking: has this month 30 days or 31 days?

Then I forget to reset my watch and that can cause problems!

The Crow said...

This is not a very "conservative" idea, is it?
Dumping tradition and custom, etc.
Maybe it appears to "make more sense", but isn't that the very motivation behind the mass delusions we lately suffer so much from?
I must be a very scarce type of human: I observe the nature of life, then set about fitting myself into it.
Whereas most seem to desire a re-making of things, that things may better fit them.

dearieme said...

"I still don't know how many days each month has": Gawd 'elp us all.

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

By-the-by, after whom should we name the 13 months? If you use Jesus and the apostles, you'll end up with the month of Judas, which will not go down well.

Wm Jas said...

So would New Year's Day and Leap Year Day be removed from the weeks as well as from them months? Would New Year's Day be defined as not falling on any day of the week at all?

And I agree with the Crow that this isn't a terribly conservative idea. Reforming the calendar is something you do after a revolution.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - ah, yes you've got me there - but wait! In fact this is just a plan to restore the true ancient practices from the Shire days here in the North Kingdom - and later on the Celtic lunar calendar business... So it is reactionary, very (ahem).

@dearieme - I was thinking more along pagan lines - abolish the Roman months (July and August) and bring in the more recently discovered planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (yes, I know it is a dwarf planet).

Kristor said...

Well, if you were going to name a month for each of the 12, plus one for Jesus, then you'd probably omit Judas in favor either of Matthias his replacement, or more likely, Paul.

Of course, you could make March the month of Judas, with its wicked betrayals just before Easter.

The Crow said...

Ah, OK, well that's all right, then.
Conservatism is only really a second-best, to compensate for the loss of ancient practice.
Paganism is only a second-best to direct revelation.
Direct revelation is only a second-best to walking the primeval walk.
Walking the primeval-walk is only second-best to the original experience of actually being God.
Oh, sorry, let's not go there again :)

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Yes, that's the idea.

Of course this idea is not conservative (not that I am a conservative anyway) - it's a complete load of nonsense.

dearieme said...

Kristor reminds me: may I take it that the Charltonian scheme will incorporate a fixed Easter? Please.

Agnello said...

Conservative thought begins with the coherent and observable world - tradition only after this,and innovation last of all.In this case,there are,actually,thirteen months(lunar cycles) in one year(solar calender).
As for the names of the months,I doubt we would use our Lord,but we could use the Apostles(of which Judas was not one),including Matthias and Paul.Alternatively,we could number them - Primus, Secundus,et cetera...The only convention we would not use would be the planets,zodiac,or other heavenly bodies,as their movements would not sync properly,and their use would not be conducive to the reform.
Re-align the twenty-fifth day of the last month with the Winter solstice,make your intercalary day the Solemnity of the Mother of God,and the calendar becomes easy to keep correct over lengthy periods of time,and in remote areas - Leap years are the years immediately following an imperfectly aligned Christmas.
Gregory did his best,but he had to work with what he had.When the Empire is re-established this would be a welcome and useful tradition to inaugurate.