02 February 2009

Messy calendars

The calendar is a compact history of the messy conflict between pre-Christian and Christian cultures. Today we celebrate Groundhog Day, an attempt to predict the onset of spring. This is the same day as the Christian festival of Candlemas, which marks (Luke 2:22) the Presentaion of the Lord and occurs forty days after Christmas (which we know has absolutely no relation to the winter solstice or yuletide). This ceremony was an act of purification for the new mother required by Mosaic law. I keep forgetting that Jesus and Mary were Jews. We'll asssume that their calendar has no influence on ours, just to keep things simple. Yesterday was the Roman Catholic feast of St. Brigid of Kildare. According to my biographical dictionary (The Saints, ed. John Coulson, Guild Press 1958), Brigid was "renowned for her home-brewed ale." My kind of gal. It goes on to say "her cultus appears to have taken over certain features of the pagan worship of a namesake Brigid, goddess of fire." Well, duh. You can tell folks not to be pagans but they are going to keep on doing it anyway! According to Archaeoastronomy, Imbolc occurs at 8:45 a.m. Pacific Time. This is a cross-quarter day in the solar calendar, that is, it is halway between the solstice of winter and the equinox of spring. The Celts reckoned it as the first day of spring. I'm hoping to get some skiing in so I'm going to keep calling it winter.

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