Good Old Days

First posted on The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose in 2009

No, I’m not talking about the 80s. Or even the 40s . . . I’m looking back to when the first digit in the year would have been a “one” . . . back when there were no buttons on our clothing, girls were *supposed* to get married and have babies by the time they were fifteen, and Easter sometimes came twice in one year because the King and Queen followed slightly different calendars . . . just the fact that most of the world follows the same date-tracking system is a minor miracle in itself these days. It’s so easy to take the days of the week and the months of the year for granted, but in truth it caused a major argument before everyone settled on the same system . . . here’s a quote from The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger:

“The early Christians debated it furiously. Christ was crucified as the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, so Easter’s timing depended on the Jewish lunar calendar based on the 29-1/2 day cycle from new moon to new moon. But planning a full year’s sequence of church festivals meant that the lunar timetable had to be fitted into the 365-1/4 day rotation of the seasons, based on the annual cycle of the sun — and whichever way you try to squeeze it, 29-1/2 into 365-1/4 does not go.”

And even when they sorted it all out and came up with a system that more or less worked (if you didn’t look too closely), people kept arguing details . . .and modifying . . . and they’re still arguing and tinkering today:

http://www.holy-trinity.org/modern/calen3.html

http://jonathan.rawle.org/hyperpedia/calendar.php

Useful sites for people interested in genealogy:

http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/gregorian.html

For folks who like math:

http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/GregorianCalendar.html

That’s enough links. The point I’m making is that calendars aren’t a static thing to hang on your wall; they’re constantly changing. Even when the framework stays the same, the content changes; how many new holidays have been added or altered in the last five hundred years alone? Why should you care? Well . . . if you’re a writer, it’s a way to add depth and interest to your work. If you’re a reader, it helps you spot errors in a writer’s work, and appreciate the writers who *have* put the time and effort into research.

And what does this have to do with my novels? Well . . . I have calendars and timelines plastered all over my office walls, trying to make sure events happen in the proper order . . .  so calendars are kind of on my mind, that’s all. Sequencing events in one book can be difficult, and I’m juggling a five book series with multiple overlapping events . . . quite challenging, if fun.

Now, enough blathering, time to get back to work!

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