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OT: Calendaring

From:Bryan Maloney <slimehoo@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 22:14
--- In, James Landau
<Neurotico@A...> wrote:
> In a message dated 1/19/2003 7:40:30 PM Pacific
Standard Time,
> peter-clark@B... writes: > > > On Sunday 19 January 2003 07:14 pm, James Landau
> > > I've usually seen it given as "4 B.C.". (If you
can think of any other
> > way > > > to express the would-be year 0 that marked the
transition from B.C. to
> > > A.D., tell me). Of course there had to be some
significance to "0" too,
> > or > > > else why would anyone have started there if they
knew he wasn't There was no year zero for the same reason that there is no "base zero" when one talks about RNA transcription. In molecular biology, DNA bases in a gene can be given a position number based either on start of transcription. In both cases, "-1" is immediately followed by "+1". This is perfectly meaningful and logical. A base is either before a transcribed region begins or after it begins. There are no "zero bases" that are neither transcribed nor not transcribed. Messes up computer jocks who try to program for molecular biologists, but why ruin a true-to-the-state model merely for the sake of some kind of rigor? Indeed, a mathematically rigorous numbering method would actually be quite false.
> I never asked about the year 0 A.D. or the year 0
B.C., only the would-be
> point between 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 1 B.C. and
12:00 midnight on January
> 1, A.D. 1 on at which you'd logically think Jesus
was traditionally believed
> to have been born (of course, many put it at
December 25, 1 B.C., before the
> "4 B.C." estimate won out, but even that would still
mean he was born a full
> six days before "the birth of Jesus"). > > > We have to thank a monk by the name of
Dionysius Exiguus (aka Dennis
> > the > > Little), who had the task of figuring out the
Easter cycles. In 525 AD,
> > unhappy that the current system of numbering years
counted from the reign
> > of > > Diocletian, who had persecuted Christians during
his reign, decided that
> > the > > Church needed a new system, and so (naturally)
based it on his calculation
> > of > > Christ's birth. Unfortunately, we're a little
foggy on why he chose 25
> > December 753 AUC[**] (ab urbe condita, i.e. since
the founding of Rome);
> > there are a couple of theories, but I'm not aware
of any that have been
> > decisively proven. > > What I always heard was that Christmas had actually
been celebrated in March
> earlier and was moved to the twenty-fifth of
December to coincide with the
> winter solstice festivals of Norse and Celtic pagan
religions to try to win
> them over to Christianity. They could make Christmas
much more fun and could
> convince the pagans who couldn't be convinced by
mere missionary work. Here is the actual situation. 1: The Romans had a calendar that had certain months. The months continued to be used because it was considered too disruptive to change everything. The Roman calendar originally began in the month of Mars (March) but this was moved to the month of Janus (January) before Julius Caesar took power. He hired experts to regularize the calendar, thus producing the "Julian" calendar of exactly 365.25 days per year. 2: For at least the first century of Christianity, the birth of Christ was not considered an extremely important holiday. It was the Resurrection that was the big deal (and is still the big deal in my own Church--Orthodoxy). However, over time, local commemorations of the birth were observed, the earliest known being around AD200 in Alexandria, and it was in the spring.. 3: The Western Empire was very Latin in culture, and this Latin part of the Empire had a pre-extant winter solstice festival. Church leaders in the West decided that it would be a good idea to at least put some brake on the pure selfishness of this revelry by having a major Church holiday (holy-day) during this festival. Thus, December 25th was chosen. It also made for a good symbol--the new light of the sun as a symbol for the New Light of Christ. This was not done as a way to "convert more pagans". At the time, the Church was still worried about surviving. Missionizing of "German and Celtic pagans" would not start for a couple of centuries. Even then, the East did not accept the new date until a century after the West fixed it. Unfortunately, the general mass of the laity eventually erroneously concluded that the celebration of the date meant that it was "Jesus's birthday". Later on, in the 19th century, Protestant scholars jumped to the conclusion that it was some sort of intentional conversion policy. Those policies came later. Then we have the 20th century when a bizarre coalition of neopagans and fundamentalists came along with an agenda to "prove" that all the old Church festivals were "really" just pagan festivals, and we have fodder for the Today Show. 4: When Dionysus ("Dennis" is just the English form of the name) set the calendar, January 1 was not chosen as the new year. Instead, he counted back from December 25th, setting the new year at March 25th. England celebrated new years day on March 25th as late as the reign of Henry VIII.
> At least that explains why the A.D. system begins
in A.D. 1 and good old
> Tradition says Jesus was born when we made the
transition from B.C. to A.D.,
> a birth that was only dated then in retrospect and
then magically lost four
> years when no one was around to double-check on
Dennis the Little. Nothing was "magically lost". He just didn't add up the tax records properly.
> So why would they be all that keen to celebrate> > > Christmas? Unless they converted to Christianity
(Missionaries in Actually, the Japanese are keen on Christmas but aren't Christian. __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now.