It’s not so easy to pick up writing after a lengthy break. I know this only too well from my unfinished dissertation… So, I thought the best way would be to start with a quick “Happy New Year”, but then even this is too late.
Wait a minute. Who says the whole world starts the year on January 1? A bit of google and wikipedia research shows that there are other calendars in use besides the Gregorian, also called the “Christian” calendar. Most famous is probably the Chinese, and the year 4705 will start on February 7 — the Year of the Rat. So — an early 恭喜发财, or Kung hei fat choi — “Congratulations and be prosperous”!
In Thailand, for example, the Buddhist calendar is still in use, as it is in other South-East Asian countries. B.E. (Buddhist Era) 2551 starts on April 13 as far as I could figure out; I may be wrong, it’s rather complicated. And it becomes even more complex in India where more than 30 different calendars are in use… The year 2008 can be 5109 in the Kaliyuga calendar, 1415 in the Bengali calendar, 1930 in the Saka calendar, or 2065 in the Bikram Samvat calendar. Travelers better keep a converter handy.
One of the most peculiar calendars ever has got to be the French Revolutionary Calendar. Its year began with the autumnal equinox, and it had 12 months of 30 days each, with descriptive names such as “Snow”, “Rain”, and “Wind” (for December, January, and February respectively, which the English called mockingly: “Slippy”, “Drippy”, and “Nippy”…).
The month had three weeks, each ten days long, and the day was divided into ten hours, with 100 minutes adding up to one hour, and 100 seconds forming one minute. Instead of being named after one of the Catholic saints, each day had an animal, a tool, a plant, or a mineral associated with it. Accordingly, there was a Manure Day, a Coal Day, a Broccoli Day, and a Tuna Day, among others…
Not surprisingly, the calendar wasn’t popular, partly because people didn’t like ten-day work weeks. It was abolished in 1805, after some 13 years of use. Nevertheless –Happy Sandstone Day!