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The New Year

From:James Landau <neurotico@...>
Date:Sunday, December 29, 2002, 15:13
 I decided long ago that 7215 B.C. in the Gregorian calendar would be at the
same time in the universe that the Kankonians were beginning their transition
to measured time. Therefore Jesus would be born right about the year 7215 by
the Kankonian calendar, the Roman Empire (or at least the Western Roman
Empire) would fall in 7691 (that's 7,215 + 476) and <u>1984</u> would be
retitled <u>9199</u>.

 Later I noticed that I never stated exactly when the new year would begin.
Unless 1-1-9199 corresponded to January 1, 1984, one could not be sure that a
day that was in 1984 in the Gregorian calendar would be in 9199 on the
Kankonian <i>makraski</i>. So I decided to think about what day it would be
right here on Earth while the Kankoniks (or Kankonikes) were starting their
new year. I first thought about how September might be a plausible time that
would seem to make a kind of intuitive sense to people (as if they had known
it unconsciously all along), some time in between my birthday (September 8)
and the start of autumn on Earth (September 23). I decided that September 17
sounded good. 1-1 would correspond to September 17. 1-1-9217 would be on the
same day as September 17, 2002.

 (A note for those of you who aren't familiar with Kankonian dates: the
Kankonian year is a mite shorter than Earth's year, lasting 360 dates, making
the days cleanly distributable at 30 per month. A day is simply named by
naming the day of the month, then the number of the month (drert), then the
year. So the eleventh day of Drert zash Treil (Month Seven) in the year 3174
would be written 11-7-3174 (at least in Arabic numerals). The length of one
drert is fairly close to the full cycle of Akalla, but the Kankonians prefer
an arbitrary division of months that makes a year crisply divisible, 12 x 30.
Tziran has an even rougher correlation to the months, going through 17.53
phases a year. This would give you 360 days from 1-1 to 30-12. End of note.)

 But then I played around with that September 17 idea and guess where their
equivalent of Christmas landed? I counted back a few days and noticed what
date Kankonia's "25-12" (the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month)
corresponded to. Bad idea.

 I tried to think where else I could imagine we were when a new year was
beginning in a galaxy far, far away. How about March 22? That would make
March 22, 2002 the same day as 1-1-9217 (give or take a few hours or minutes
based on when the two planets' respective suns rise). That time of year
always had a comfortably morbid feel to me. Like it was a good time to die.

 Where have you decided to start your new years, and in what seasons? The
belief that the year should change with winter (or more precisely, ten days
from the start of winter) seems arbitrary. Rosh Hashannah occurs in
September, the Julian calendar if I recall began on April Fool's Day, and
only the other day an episode of "The Simpsons" was on in which Officer
Wiggum mentioned he had confiscated some fireworks from some Chinese people
who -- get this! -- claimed they were celebrating New Year's in February! If
anything, I would think the obvious time to start a new year would be with
spring. Spring is where things begin again; in winter it's just a lot of
dying and washing away of The Old. (But looking at my new date, the Kankonian
New Year begins EXACTLY when we're celebrating the beginning of spring.
Hmmmm.) How have you decided to determine the start of your non-Gregorian
calendars, and do you even split up the months the same as the Gregorian way,
or base your months on the moon? For creators of different planets, the
calendar creates an even more complicated challenge than for creators of
Terran concultures, for the time the seasons begin will be different from the
time they start on Earth, and if you choose to situate the people who speak
your language on a planet much closer to or farther from its sun than Earth
is, the year will be a radically different length and years will pass at a
much different pace than they do on Earth, meaning a year won't correspond
with a certain single year on that planet. A calendar could have many more
months if its planet's year was longer. And for cultures that base their
months on moons, the presence of two moons (or even three) on the planet
could make for all sorts of ideas on how to measure months. The inhabitants
of a planet with no moon would be completely unable to base their months on
moons at all, and would have to have some other basis for subdividing the
year. Maybe they could split it mathematically so that their 437-day year
divided into 19 x 23.

 As for Kankonia's 1-1, I'm deciding right now whether it's going to be based
on seasonal phenomena or whether it was simply the day of the year it was
when people first started counting dates on Ekhula's calendar (1-1-1 being
the day ancient inhabitants of Hegheos -- there's that "gh" again! -- first
made the transition to measured time). As for subdividing the day, what they
talk about when they talk about <i>na enles</i> -- their equivalent of
"o'clock", I'm thinking about dividing the day into sixteenths, because it
would be easy to draw perfect halves on a sundial in the days before they had
the compass and the protractor.


Tim May <butsuri@...>
Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>