Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An Appropriate Date

Today is my birthday. Actually it’s a birth date that I picked for myself. Since no one can pick the day they’re actually born, I believe everyone has the right to choose a second birthday – a B2.

From what I’ve quickly Google-gathered (Wikipedia and Snopes) April 1 used to be associated with the first day of spring and the New Year. All of that was changed when the calendar was changed from Julian to Gregorian in the 1500s: January 1 became the day to mark a new year.

There are a few ideas about the origin of the April Fools Day. According to one bit of speculation, a person was a fool when he still thought April 1 marked the New Year. Neighbors would stop in to his home on that day, acting as if it was New Year’s Day. If he fell for the trick, then he was appropriately labeled. (Lots of yuks with those French peasants, eh?)

Me, I’m more concerned about the spring aspect of April 1. Around here January 1 is the dead of winter. April 1 makes more sense to be associated with both springtime and a New Year. Even though there’s snow still on the ground, the days are getting longer and the temp is slowly rising.

Of course, when choosing April 1 as my B2, there’s also the trickster aspect…

(Note: This post was supposed to be up earlier but the Trickster decided to knock out the power to my apartment building.)


Doug said...

Happy new year, sir.

Ray said...


ThanX! (Even though it's supposed to snow tomorrow...)


X. Dell said...

Interesting. I guess it would make sense for us if April 1 was the beginning of the year. I don't know, however, how folks in Australia and South Africa would feel about it, since the date marks their fall.

One would think, though, that the ancients and later ancestors would have begun the year along the time of a solstice, equinox, or something that had to do with the planting season--nothing to do with mid-winter.

Ray said...

X. Dell:
If history was so simple. But it ain't. For example:
= = =

New Year's Day
The Roman calendar began the year on 1 January, and this remained the start of the year after the Julian reform. However, even after local calendars were aligned to the Julian calendar, they started the new year on different dates. The Alexandrian calendar in Egypt started on 29 August (30 August after an Alexandrian leap year). Several local provincial calendars were aligned to start on the birthday of Augustus, 23 September. The indiction caused the Byzantine year, which used the Julian calendar, to begin on 1 September; this date is still used in the Eastern Orthodox Church for the beginning of the liturgical year. When the Julian calendar was adopted in AD 988 by Vladimir I of Kiev, the year was numbered Anno Mundi 6496, beginning on 1 March, six months after the start of the Byzantine Anno Mundi year with the same number. In 1492 (AM 7000), Ivan III, according to church tradition, realigned the start of the year to 1 September, so that AM 7000 only lasted for six months in Russia, from 1 March to 31 August 1492.[7]
= = =

According to a contributor to the CALNDR-L mailing list, Julius Caesar wanted to start the year on the Spring Equinox or the Winter Solstice, but the Senate, which traditionally took office on January 1st, the start of the Roman civil calendar year, wanted to keep January 1st as the start of the year, and Caesar yielded in a political compromise.
= = =
Me, since I've decided that April 1st is my birthday, I've also decided May 1st starts the New Year - at least as long as I'm stuck in this semi-arctic region with its long winters.