Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On the Eighth and Ninth Days of Christmas... and the First Days of 2013

Our New Year's resolution here at The Blog of Days is to work a day ahead this year -- to give you suggestions on Monday about how you can best celebrate on Tuesday.

Most New Year's resolutions fail miserably, of course, but we'll do the best we can....

You pretty much ought to know what today is. At least you should be able to figure it out when your head clears a little.

We asked our crack research department tin investigate why so many of us want to usher in the new year in a drunken stupor. They said they'd do some field research and report back... and we haven't heard from them since.

Checking through their scribbled notes, we did find out that January 1 did not become New Year's Day until 45 B.C., when Julius Caesar adopted the Julian calendar. And gave himself the month of July.

Putting Rome on a solar, as opposed to lunar, calendar had potentially far-reaching political implications in Rome: As the calendar drifted out of sync with the seasons, Roman priests and politicians would insert months or take them out -- or add days on which no interest might be charged -- or lengthen the reign of the year's consuls.

Unfortunately, Julius Caesar (who was both politician and priest -- he was pontifex maximus) made himself dictator for life and got himself assassinated, thereby effectively ending the Roman Republic, so the Republic was never able to reap whatever benefits there might have been in having new years of equal length.

The Julian calendar long outlived its patron, surviving until the refinements made by Pope Gregory XIII. We told you something about this back in October.

Now let's move on to January 2.

January 2 is not just the ninth day of Christmas, it's also Science Fiction Day -- and we were able to find out the reason even though the crack research staff has gone missing.

Iaasac Asimov was born on this date in 1920.


If you check out Wikipedia's biographical sketch of Dr. Asimov, you'll learn that Asimov admitted that his real birthday might have been as early as October 4, 1919.

The confusion can be traced to fading memories, confusion about the application of the traditional Jewish lunar calendar and even something about the changeover between the Julian and Gregorian calendars in Asimov's native Russia (which occurred later there than in most parts of the world -- see how these things tie together?), but the point is that Asimov celebrated his birth on January 2 and that's a more than adequate tie-in for Science Fiction Day.

Without any apparent trace of irony, Usual Suspect Brownielocks.com notes that today is both National Buffet Day and National Personal Trainer Awareness Day.

You really shouldn't try to celebrate both of these tomorrow.

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