April Fools? No, January Fools, fool.
So it’s time again for the most celebrated New Year Day worldwide (although there is a strong contender with the Chinese New Year). What is the significance of January 1st as a New Year Day? It isn’t related to any historical event (other than previous January 1sts), it isn’t an observable phenomenon (like the Full Moon, or Equinox). So, what is up with it?
It is related to the Southern Solstice (December 21st-ish), although the path is somewhat convoluted, and takes us from the middle east through to modern christianity. But let us not forget the romans.
January was named after the roman god Janus – the one with two faces: one looking backward towards the past, the other looking ahead to the future. He is the god of beginnings and transitions, so appropriate enough for the first month of the roman calendar.
So christmas day falls after the solstice, but we need to look at what happens with the sun in and around that time of year to put it in a christian context (for the winter solstice – this makes christianity a decidedly northern religion, as the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs on june 21st).
As the amount of daylight grows shorter and shorter as we approach the winter solstice, the sun’s path across the skies appears to get lower and lower day by day. Then on the solstice itself, the sun reaches its lowest point. There is no discernible change in the sun’s path during this time (maybe because you’d go blind for trying to look at it) for three days. Then, the sun’s path appears to get higher and higher. So the sun descends (let’s call it dying), then waits for three days, then rises again (let’s call it rebirth, because that’s what many pagan stories were – the solstice was the death and rebirth of the sun).
So on the 25th, the sun is reborn (why this death and rebirth was moved to Easter is beyond me, while the birth of jesus remains after the solstice – it’s poor storytelling).
Now on to phase 2 of the christian new year – the 12 days of christmas (you didn’t think it was all about getting leaping lords as presents, did you?). the 12 days of christmas mark the days between christmas itself and the feast of epiphany. the feast of epiphany falls on January 6, which is about the time of the earth’s perihelion (i.e. the earth’s closest point in its orbit to the sun). The 12 days represent the coming 12 months of the year, such that each day is meant to augur one of the coming months, to let you know what kind of a year you’re in for. Modern tradition would put january as a month of great clusterfrakking in search of non-existent deals at future shop – crappy way to spend a month if you ask me.
january 1st, the most two-faced day of every year, then, falls halfway between christmas and epiphany. There’s the significance of the date itself. Thank goodness we’re all so attuned to the roman-christian traditions upon which our calendar is based that we celebrate its influence on our way of thinking.
or not. I’ve already celebrated the new year. enjoy yourselves you fools.
Chromatic: Year 0 Lunation 0 Day 11
Lunar: Year 0 Lunation 0 Day 19
Year 0 Month 0 Day 10 Tuesday
Year 0 House 0 Day 10
Year 0 Quarter 0 Day 10
Sagittarius Day 16
Market Weeks (numbered from 0):
Solar Cycle 0 Day 1825
Mercury 0 Day 45
Venus 0 Day 209
Mars 0 Day 697
Jupiter 0 Day 233
Saturn 0 Day 68
Uranus 0 Day 283