When the new year begins is down to your tradition


So that’s it: 2015 is over and done, and 2016 is well on its way. I wonder how many of you have broken your new year’s resolutions already?

As I’ve said before: the placing of the new year is arbitrary. The calendar is a man-made construction and only loosely connected to the progress of the actual year.

When the year begins is a matter of debate, and what year you think it is depends on what culture you were born into.

The Jewish new year is in September and they are in the year 5776.

The Buddhist new year is in April and they are in the year 2560. The Hindu new year varies depending on the tradition, but the year is 5118.

The last Islamic new year was on the 14th of October 2015. The next will be on the 2nd October 2016. They are in the year 1437.

Islamic months end with the sighting of the crescent moon and track the progress of the year from direct observation of the heavens, but this leads to a disconnect with the solar calendar, and an Islamic year that is 11 or 12 days shorter than ours.

Our calendar, on the other hand, while it tracks the progress of the sun accurately enough, loses the connection to the moon.

The most precise calendar ever devised was by a Stone Age people: the Mayans of Central America.

Their calendar tracked the progress, not only of the sun and the moon, but also the 243 year cycle of the planet Venus and every lunar and solar eclipse from August 11th 3114 BC to the present.

They are currently in year four of a five thousand one hundred and twenty six year cycle which will end in the year 7138.

And we think we’re civilised? The Mayans hadn’t even invented the wheel when they started their calendar, but they know exactly where they are in relation to the stars.

As for your new year’s resolutions: there’s plenty of time for you to make them and break them again.

It all depends on when you think the year begins.


The Whitstable Gazette.
The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.
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The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE,
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