According to the Julian calendar, tonight is the eve of the new year. Most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar, but it was used for over 16 centuries. (The Christian Eastern Orthodox Church still uses the Julian calendar.)
The Gregorian calendar was accepted in 1582 as being more accurate and it eventually replaced the Julian though it didn’t happen overnight or even worldwide in that year. Astronomers still use the Julian calendar dates for celestial events occurring before the Gregorian calendar was introduced.
The Julian calendar had discrepancies between the calendar dates and the actual time of events like the spring equinox. It was Pope Gregory who decreed that October 4, 1582, on the Julian calendar was to be followed by October 15, 1582, in the new Gregorian calendar. England, with its own church, stuck with the Julian calendar for two more centuries.
The Julian calendar was proposed by Julius Caesar in AUC 708 (46 BC). It was a more accurate version of the existing Roman calendar and it took effect on 1 January AUC 709 (45 BC), by his edict. It was designed with the aid of Greek mathematicians and Greek astronomers for accuracy and was the predominant calendar in the Roman world and most of Europe for more than 1,600 years.
2020 has an extra day because it is a leap year. This year has 366 days instead of 365. This year also will not begin and end on the same day of the week, as a “normal” non–leap year does. The extra day is February 29 – a day added nearly every four years to the calendar year.
Why? The short answer is that try as we do to control time, we need to adjust to keep our calendar aligned correctly with the astronomical seasons. The Earth’s orbit around the Sun takes approximately 365.25 days, so without this extra day, our Gregorian calendar would get out of sync.
A leap year is also known as an intercalary year or bissextile year and a year that is not a leap year is a common year.
This is for the Gregorian calendar. It’s a lot more complicated if we get into other calendars. In the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, Adar Aleph, a 13th lunar month, is added seven times every 19 years to the twelve lunar months in its common years to keep its calendar year from drifting through the seasons. Complicated. In the Bahá’í Calendar, a leap day is added when needed to ensure that the following year begins on the March equinox.
A long time ago, Leap Day was known as “Ladies Day” or “Ladies’ Privilege,” as it was the one day when women were free to propose to men. One tradition today is called Sadie Hawkins Day which sometimes applies to February 29 and allows ladies to ask men for a date or dance.
Two questions that puzzled me about leap years: 1) Why is it called a “leap” year? 2) What happens if your birthday is on February 29 and you only have that birthday every 4 years?
In the Gregorian calendar, a fixed date normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next. January 1 this year was on Wednesday and normally the following year it would be on Thursday. But in the 12 months following the leap day (March 1 – February 28 of the following year) the day will advance two days due to the extra day. So, next year January 1 and the other days will “leap” over one day in the week. January 1 will leap over Thursday and be on Friday next year.
A person born on February 29 is sometimes called a “leapling” or a “leaper.” In common years, they usually celebrate their birthdays on February 28, but it could be celebrated on March 1 since that is the day after February 28. Though a leaper might claim to be only a quarter of their actual age (by counting only their leap-year birthday anniversaries). For legal purposes, these birthdays depend on how local laws count time intervals.
At the end of 2016, there was a “leap second” added to the year to correct the length of a day into Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This tiny insertion adjusts because of variations in Earth’s rotational period. Leap seconds are not regular things because variations in the length of the day are not entirely predictable.
And though you won’t hear anything like the madness that surrounded the Y2K bug, leap years can present computing problems if the 366th day or February 29 is not handled correctly.
No, I didn’t mess up on my blog queue. Today is the last day of 2019 – if you follow the Julian calendar. That is the one that was introduced to the world by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.
Tomorrow (my January 14) will be the Julian New Year which is also known as the Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year. Caesar’s calendar ruled for 16 centuries. The Christian Eastern Orthodox Church still follows the Julian calendar now, though most of the world has gone Gregorian.
All this calendar play is why six and a half million Britons went to bed on September 2, 1752, and woke 12 days later on September 14.
Here’s a post for the penultimate day of 2019. Tomorrow is 2020 and the start of a new decade. Or is it? There is real disagreement on when a new decade begins.
Some people say that the new decade “officially” begins with years ending in 0 while others say a new decade begins in years ending in 1. Is there a correct answer? Generally, people would say that the decade of the 90s began in 1990, 1890 et al.
You can also consider when centuries and millennia begin in the same way. The official answer on that is that the 21st century and the third millennium began on New Year’s Day 2001. That’s because in our modern anno domini time reckoning system there is no year zero. Year 1 BC was followed by year AD 1. But there was certainly much celebration for the new millennium on January 1, 2000.
With decades, it’s more about language than about calendars. Unlike centuries, we would never say “the 200th decade” to mean the next decade. (Technically, the upcoming decade is the 203rd decade. but I am not getting into that.) Chances are we will call this next decade “the twenties” though that might confuse it with the 1920s (the “roaring twenties”).
It will be widely accepted that the new decade will begin when the ball falls at midnight on January 1, 2020, but you can legitimately celebrate again a year later.
If you say to me that something happened in “the 90s” I assume you mean the 1990s and not 1890s. But what do you call that time from 2000-2009? In North America, the term “the aughts” was used (but not by me) and other English speaking countries used “the noughts” or “the noughties.”
And the 2010 -2019 has been referred to as “the teens,” “the teenies,” “the teensies” and “the tens.” I don’t like any of those names. I would probably opt for “the twenty-tens” (“the 2010s”) but my browser’s spell-grammar checker and Grammarly app doesn’t seem to like any of those. Did we go through ten years and we still haven’t decided what to call it? I suppose this decade that is ending will be named in hindsight. Happy 2020, readers!
Before the sun rises tomorrow morning, the Moon will become full (4:31 AM EDT). You probably won’t notice it until tomorrow night, and you might consider the Moon to look full tonight.
The June Full Moon is commonly known as the Strawberry Moon, because this is the peak of the short picking season for that berry. Well, maybe it is the peak where you live. It is not a Strawberry Moon everywhere. That was the name used by just about every Algonquin tribe. Europeans called this the Rose Moon, and roses are more likely to be blooming in Paradelle than I am to be picking strawberries.
Another old European name for this full Moon is the Mead Moon or the Honey Moon. Mead is a drink created by fermenting honey mixed with water, sometimes with fruits, spices, grains, or hops. The tradition of calling the first month of marriage the “honeymoon” dates back to at least the 1500’s. It may be connected to this Full Moon, either because of the custom of marrying in June or because the “Honey Moon” is the “sweetest” Moon of the year.
As spring ends and summer begins, the daily periods of sunlight lengthen to their longest on the solstice, then begin to shorten again.
Among the Cherokee people, this was known as the Green Corn Moon. It is early for even green corn in my area. There are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes today: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
The Dakotah Sioux were safely more generic with the name Moon When June Berries Are Ripe.
This was also known as the Dyan Moon (today as the Dyad Moon) in medieval England. Dyad is an archaic word meaning pair. It was thought that at this time of the year, the effects of the Sun and Moon are equal.
There are many cultural legends that connect the Sun and Moon as husband and wife, maid and suitor, brother and sister.
This is the Moon of Horses to ancient and latter-day Celts and Druids. The Celts called this Equos, “horse-time, which is from the middle of June to the middle of July.
The calendar known as the “Coligny calendar” is one that was made in Roman Gaul in the 2nd century. It also has a Equos. It has an interesting five-year cycle of a lunisolar calendar with intercalary months. Intercalary means that a leap day, week, or month is inserted into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. It reminds me more of the Maya calendar than the ones that are most widely used today.
Are the Celts also the Gauls? Caesar wrote that the Gauls called themselves Celtae. Gaul was a geographic area (modern France and northern Italy) and “Gauls” were the people who lived there according to the Romans. Linguistically, the people who lived in Gaul were Celts, and this was the main distinction made by the early historians.
I could not find an explanation of why the Celts and Druids called this horse-time or what meaning the Moon of Horses had to them. But this Full Moon of very early summer definitely ushers in the season which officially begins later this week.