I just got around to changing my calendar from November to December. I adore wall calendars and love to give them as gifts as well as pick out the ones I want in my home and office. It used to mean going down to a bookstore or paper goods store (do they even have those anymore?) and choosing from an assortment of themes, sizes, colors, and shapes. Nowadays, calendars range from digital to print, from three dimensional to glossy-papered hanging versions.
Calendars have an interesting history. Seems that humans have a knack for counting things and then wanting to predict their reoccurrence. That’s handy if you are trying to keep track of when to plant stuff and when the tide is going to come in and go out. Whoever figured it out first probably was made a god or a ruler or something. Mayans took it a step further and made art out of it! My point being that there is something both reassuring and potent in being able to create a form that will reliably show what is going to happen in the future and keep track of what has happened in the past.
Calculating what we now take for granted in terms of having 12 months in a year, made up of 52 weeks with seven days in each week, actually varies from culture to culture. Following lunar and solar orbits started the whole thing, but then rulers and priests put their hands in it. There is the Julian calendar (yes, Julius Ceasar) that measured the passage of time based on the sun’s orbit and broke it into 365 days and six hours. These calculations were based on when the star Sirius appeared in the sky. Some historians consider Sirius to be the “Star of the East” associated with the birth of the Christ child. Others credit the Egyptians with paying attention to this because they needed to know when to plant crops so that the Nile would water them.
Problem with the Julian calendar (and the Roman Empire), is the more accurate measurement for a year is 365 days, five hours and 45 seconds. Point being, those pesky additional hours and minutes and seconds had to be accommodated resulting in a recalculation every four years – Leap Year! That brought about a schism in the 16th century when Pope Gregory XIII got into the whole thing and proposed his own calendar – the Gregorian calendar. This put all of Christendom into turmoil literally for centuries! Who could tell when to celebrate Christmas Eve or All Kings Day? And what to do if you were Jewish, Muslim, or Olmec? By the way, the Mayan calendar used different math and came up with 18 months consisting of 20 days each with no Leap Year at all!
The concept of a “week” seems to have risen when humans started trading with each other. What is now a familiar Amazon Prime benefit (next day delivery) took a little longer back in the early A.D.s. One theory suggests that the work week arose out of Biblical narratives, (on the 7th day we rested). Another suggests that we owe more to the Romans who counted seven planets in the sky and marked their orbits. Either way, it was a useful measure of how many of those time frames it takes to sail to the New World and bring back silk and spices. That kind of calculation was important to traders and nation-builders alike. Oh, and Santa, too.
Today we live in a world that is measured by an atomic clock. We can precisely predict when the sun will rise, the moon wax and wane, where to find Sirius’ location in the galaxy, and determine how long it will take for Time-to-Market delivery.
Calendars serve a different purpose today. They mark different passages of time. They come in many different formats. For many, “calendars” are entries in a computer system that sends out prompts letting us know where and when to show up. Calendars are opportunities for photographers to share their work. I can choose from any number of themes and can find a variety of presentations from single-page tear-offs, to vibrant shiny wall calendars. I can choose from leather-bound daily, weekly, monthly, academic, annual, or appointment calendars. I can open my Outlook or other app to mark the who, what, where and when of an appointment.
For many years, calendars were the go-to gift for businesses wanting to advertise. There were famous pin-up calendars advertising tires, motor oils, and auto parts. These were targeted to gas stations and auto shops and the men who occupied them. More traditional calendars were used to advertise insurance companies and local stores. This practice seems to have gone by the wayside.
My profession requires that I keep track of who I see, so I have appointment calendars. But what I truly love and will continue to purchase for my own pleasure are wall calendars. I love to give and get calendars for Christmas. They are fun to buy, easy to wrap, and usually one of those gifts that isn’t automatically re-gifted. For several years I received calendars as gifts as a matter of course and didn’t need to purchase any. Then, all of a sudden, people stopped giving them to me. That is not a hint. I have adapted to this, and now buy my own.
I just turned the last page of my home office calendar, which this year had fabulous pictures of owls. The calendar I chose for my therapy office used soft nature-based pictures and had inspirational quotes. I always make sure I get a calendar filled with pictures of porches for my kitchen.
I am looking forward to going calendar shopping, but now will do it on-line. Based on my calculations, I have 22 more days before I need new calendars for 2019. Can’t wait to see what I find!