Tag Archives: Gregorian calendar

Welcome to December

Night town with the Christmas lighting, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
George Hodan, publicdomainpictures.net

December is the 12th month on the Gregorian calendar. The name derives from the Latin word decem, which means ten. Originally December was the tenth month in an older calendar as it started in March. Apparently the winter days that followed December were not included in a month until much later when January and February were added. December retained its name though. Anglo-Saxons used the term Yule for December-January, but that now that has largely come to mean December and the Christmas season.

December has the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern. Winter traditionally begins on the astronomical calendar around 21 December or the date of the actual solstice.  The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and depending on how far north you live, sunlight may only be for a few hours on that day.  The symbols for December are the narcissus flower and turquoise, zircon and tanzanite as the birthstones.

Most Christians celebrate Advent in preparation for the celebration of Christmas on 25 December. Jews celebrate Chanukah/Hanukkah, the 8-day Festival of Lights in December as well. Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26-January 1.


Welcome to November

Le Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry-November
Jean Colombe (1430–1493)
Public Domain (Wikimedia)

November is the 11 month of the year in both the old Julian and current Gregorian calendars. The name is derived from Latin, novem, which means nine. This indicates its position on the early Roman calendar. Depending on your geographic location, it is either late spring in the Southern Hemisphere or late autumn in the Northern Hemisphere.

The symbols for November are the topaz (birthstone that symbolizes friendship), and its flower is the chrysanthemum.

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Today is Eastern Orthodox Christmas Day

Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day usually on or about January 7 each year.  This is due to the fact that Eastern Orthodox follows the Julian calendar rather than Gregorian for liturgical feasts and occasions such as Christmas. So the date on the Julian calendar is December 25 but there is a 13 day difference so on the Gregorian or Western calendar it is January 7.

It is called the Gregorian calendar as Pope Gregory XIII proclaimed it in a Papal Bull in 1582. It was adopted by most Catholic countries but others did not use it right away (some for religious reasons since they were Protestant) and took over 300 years to be fully implemented. Great Britain did not formally adopt it till 1752.  Russia adopted it in 1918, Greece in 1923 and Turkey in 1926. The reason for the change was the Julian calendar was not very accurate and had to many leap years. Because of this it would fall out of sync  with fixed dates for astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices.

Eastern Orthodox Christians has over 250 million believers in Eastern Europe, Greece, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and United States. Except in countries that are predominately Eastern Orthodox, it is not celebrated as a public holiday.

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

 

Welcome To March

Daffodil.Photo by Bertil Videt, 2005
Daffodil.Photo by Bertil Videt, 2005

March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the early Roman calendar. It is named for Mars, the Roman god of war and agriculture. And Romans believed he was the ancestor of Romulus and Remus. March would remain the first month of the new year for many until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 although Great Britain did not change till 1752. Greece was the last European country to switch over in 1923.

March has two birthstones, aquamarine and bloodstone. The birth flower is the daffodil.

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Welcome to August

Today is the first sunday of August, the eight month in the Gregorian calendar. It is summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern. One interesting bit of trivia is that August ends on the same day of the week as November every year. This month was originally known as Sextili as it was the sixth month. It shifted around for a while as calendars were changed or adjusted until around Julius Caesar added to more days to give it a full 31 and by that time it was the eighth month. It became August (Latin Augustus) to honor the Emperor Augustus. The word august has come to mean respected and impressive. Saying someone is part of an august body is to say the body is distinguished and renowned.

The birthstones for August are peridot and sardonyx. The August flower is the gladiolus or poppy.

Gladiolus(Gladiolus imbricatus) Photo: Christer Johansson(via Wikipedia)
Gladiolus(Gladiolus imbricatus)
Photo: Christer Johansson(via Wikipedia)

Welcome To March

Daffodil.Photo by Bertil Videt, 2005
Daffodil.Photo by Bertil Videt, 2005

March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the early Roman calendar. It is named for Mars, the Roman god of war and agriculture. And Romans believed he was the ancestor of Romulus and Remus. March would remain the first month of the new year for many until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582 although Great Britain did not change till 1752. Greece was the last European country to switch over in 1923.

March has two birthstones, aquamarine and bloodstone. The birth flower is the daffodil.

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