Saturday, March 20, 2010

birth and rebirth

I've never really understood why the year doesn't begin in Spring. My questioning wasn't so strong when I lived in Vegas where the changing of the seasons isn't all that noticeable, but here where we actually do have snow and then the melting of such and the blooming of new life after such snow has melted, I question the year beginning January first much more.

I feel that the year really should start at the Vernal Equinox. Don't the seasons just so nicely correspond with phases of our lives? (Or, have I just been reading entirely too much early modern literature? I'm sure the trope is highly available in the literature of other eras, too.) Spring is the start of life. Summer is the late youth and early adulthood. Autumn is maturity. Winter is old age and death. (Yes, I know, that's kind of sad for Winter...unless we view this, naturally, as a cycle. Then, the death that occurs in Winter provides the soil for the life that returns in Spring.*)

And, yesterday, I heard something on the radio that goes along with this notion of mine. (A notion that, yes, I do realize is so not original.) On Star Date, Sandy Wood, reading a script prepared by Damond Benningfield, explained that the Gregorian Calendar, which we still use, is calibrated using the Vernal Equinox. She reports that when people were first figuring out the idea of the year, the "period between vernal equinoxes determined the length of the year. This period is known as the tropical year..."(StarDate Online Spring Equinox).

If it wouldn't be so confusing, I would just change the way I defined the year, celebrating the new year on the Vernal Equinox. However, I'd always be confused. Ah, well.


* The other day as we were walking, Pic and I were discussing death. I can't remember why. She truly believes that when we die, we'll become part of the soil. (I have yet to explain to her cremation. Also, I haven't told her that people who aren't cremated are usually embalmed and also buried in boxes to keep the soil and its inhabitants out. As far as I'm concerned, I can just be buried as is and become part of the soil, but I'm not sure this will fly.) Anyhow, she was saying that one day I would die and I'd become part of the soil. "You'll be a soil woman," she told me. I like this notion.