Saturday, December 6, 2008

Just What Time of the Year is it Anyway?

This past summer I read something that interested me that I had thought of before, but never saw it put into words. It has to do with our four seasons.
As it stands right now, according to our calendars (which is calculated astronomically), winter begins on December 21st, correct? And summer usually on June 21st. But, does it not make more sense to say that December 21st is actually mid-winter? After all, it is the shortest day of the year, and from that point on the days become longer. So, by my calculations, winter should actually begin sometime in early November and end in the early part of February. Summertime would work the same way - June 21st should be mid-summer, not the 1st day of summer. Early May would be the season's beginning and early August would begin the autumn time of the year.

Well, upon doing a little research, I have found that I am not the only one who feels this way.

This from Wikipedia:

In Celtic nations such as Ireland using the Irish calendar and in Scandinavia, the winter solstice is traditionally considered as midwinter, with the winter season beginning November 1 on All Hallows or Samhain. Winter ends and spring begins on Imbolc or Candlemas, which is February 1 or February 2. This system of seasons is based on the length of days exclusively. (The three-month period of the shortest days and weakest solar radiation occurs during November, December and January in the Northern Hemisphere and May-July in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Also many mainland European countries tend to recognize Martinmas, St. Martin's day (November 11) as the first calendar day of winter. The day falls at midpoint between the old Julian equinox and solstice dates. Also, Valentines Day (February 14) is recognized by some countries as heralding the first rites of Spring (season), such as flower blooming.

Here is also the Irish/Gaelic calendar listing, which, to me makes more sense than our own:
I should have known this, and probably have read about it numerous times, but more than likely I was researching something else and blew this off.

Very doubtful this will be accepted but I still find it interesting, and it does make more sense.

By the way, upon further research I found that when Shakespeare wrote "A Mid-summer's Night Dream"," mid-summer in his day and age was what we call the 1st day of summer.
Once again, proof that our ancestors were much smarter (and had more sense) than many (if not most) today.



Mrs. G said...

I was browsing through looking for other like-minded bloggers and I found you! I like what I've read so far and I'll be checking back often!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you - I am honored.

Amanda King said...

Might this have something to do with our weather? From what I've heard, people in the past planted and everything in February, because it was actually spring-like weather. I think harvest was earlier, too. But either because of location (North America versus Europe) or some sort of change over time, it makes much more sense to call February winter, May spring, August summer, and November fall.