Making Calendars Consistent, Ctd

Jan 3 2012 @ 8:54am

The above video explains how our Gregorian calendar came to be. A reader writes:

Are these guys kidding? Look, I understand the benefits of their proposal, but someone should point out that all of our prior history would not be translatable into this new calendar paradigm. Every single birthday, occurrence, event, holiday would occur at different times relative to each other than has historically been the case. We'd lose something essential about the way that our cultures operate.

Another writes:

The idea of a consistent calendar seems to come up every few years (and always at the end of the year), but one of the great things about our current calendar is the year-to-year interplay between dates and days of the week.  For example, in 2011/2012, Christmas and New Years Day fell on a Sunday, which I find to be a bummer; Thursday seems to be the best day for these dates.  But that's sort of the point, isn't it?  Every year has a different feel to it because of where important dates lie within the week.   I think a static calendar would get pretty boring.

But look, if we must adopt a consistent calendar, there can be no other choice beside the Shire calendar, described by Tolkien in Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings. It is indeed consistent from year to year. But it also has a very special quality: it includes days that do not belong to any month (rather, they fall between months and are given names instead of dates). Further, the calendar has one or two days every year (eg Midyear's Day and in leap years, Overlithe) that not only lie outside the month, but that lie outside even the week.

Can you imagine a calendar encompassing days that lie completely outside the paradigms of month and weekday? It has this element of "suspension of time" that I find very appealing. The next week or month does not always begin immediately after the ending of previous one. There would be an unmistakable pause in what we perceive as the passing of time. Tolkien describes these days as "chief holidays and times of feasting", with Overlithe being "a day of special merrymaking". Sure enough. We would of course take the day off to reflect and to party. Could be exactly what the world needs.