Branding Time: Happy New Year
I hope you made the transition into this New Year exactly as you needed it to be… among family, friends and loved ones…. sufficient food and drinks to keep everyone around the table savoring the exchange…. with love and candor…. in laughter, joy and harmony…. Closing 2017 and opening 2018… another memorable 525600 minutes of happiness, sadness, successes, failures and many emotions stemming from life experiences that we can now call a thing of the past and we work to envision 31536000 seconds (31622400 on leap year) of what is to come.
As an Ethiopian born North American woman, I always found it interesting that I grew up celebrating two Christmas dates, two New Year’s and two Easter’s aside the many Saint days in between. As a toddler in North America, I had a chance to participate at many Halloween “trick-treatings” and during Valentine’s day- often as a single female- I had the privilege to be pampered as in the fairy tales. In my later years, I researched about calendars, time and civilizations and when New Year 2011 was around the corner, I wrote about our perception of Time in my annual message that I use to send my friends and colleagues. I was inspired to revive the message of “Branding Time” after talking to my hairdresser about January 7th being another Christmas day that we will celebrate. Although in my blog I have referenced scientific studies and having the scientific definition of time being “a continuous, measurable quantity in which events occur in a sequence proceeding from the past through the present to the future”, this blog is about how time is a cultural brand.
Calendar was slowly adopted by different nations over a period of centuries, but today by far, the most commonly used calendar around the world is the Gregorian one given the reforms of Julius Caesar in 45 BC which put the Roman World on a solar calendar. The Julian calendar was faulty in that its intercalation allowed the astronomical solstices and equinoxes to advance against it by about 11 minutes per year. Furthermore, in the Julian Calendar “a year is a leap year if it is divisible by 4; and in the Gregorian Calendar a year is a leap year if either (i) it is divisible by 4 but not by 100 or (ii) it is divisible by 400. In other words, a year which is divisible by 4 is a leap year unless it is divisible by 100 but not by 400 (in which case it is not a leap year). Thus the years 1600 and 2000 are leap years, but 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2100 are not. The position of the extra day in a leap year was moved from the day before February 25th to the day following February 28th”.
Although between 1582 and 1752, not only were two calendars used in Europe (and the European colonies), two different starts of the year were celebrated in England. A change commenced with a correction in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and those changes translated in the 1500s with 10 days being dropped, in the 1600s with 10 days being dropped, in the 1700s with 11 days being dropped, in the 1800s with 12 days being dropped and finally in 1900s with 13 days being dropped. Protestant countries were reluctant to change, and the Greek/Eastern orthodox countries didn’t change until the start of the 1900s. For example, former Soviet Union undertook the calendar reform in February 1918, moving from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian, which resulted in a loss of 13 days, so that February 1, 1918, became February 14. Many countries like Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia and Ukraine where Eastern Orthodoxy predominates still use the Julian calendar, which means the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates both the Gregorian and Julian New Year holidays. The Gregorian day is celebrated as a civic holiday and the Julian date is attributed to a religious holiday known as the " Old New Year”.
On the other hand, the People’s Republic of China uses the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes whereas a special Chinese calendar is used for determining festivals. The beginnings of the Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century B.C.E. Legend has it that the Emperor Huangdi invented the calendar in 2637 B.C.E. The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon. The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, about four to eight weeks before spring. Artifacts from the Paleolithic era suggest that the moon was used to calculate time as early as 12,000, and possibly even 30,000 BP (Before Present); and Lunar Calendars were among the first to appear. It is important to note that at first the Jewish people followed a strictly lunar calendar making the Hebrew calendar a very complicated one because it has to align the solar year (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46-seconds) with the lunar year (12 months of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds).
Time is a cultural construct and differs from one region to the other even if it has been part of a measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events and the intervals between them, aside from being used to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. A calendar year is the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun and a day is the duration of time it takes for the earth to rotate all the way around. The current International standard time is measured from the meridian of longitude that passes through the Greenwich Observatory in England. It is only for the process of homogenizing the world that the Greenwich time was created and the meridian remains an imaginary circle around the earth passing through the poles and any given point on the earth's surface. The process of globalization has made the Gregorian calendar relevant, prevalent and dominant over all others, ensuring its eminence as the Universal standard time. For instance, the Ethiopian Orthodox New Year called Enkutatash is celebrated often on September 11 similarly to the Jewish people who celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year between September 9 through 11 which falls on the same date as Neyrouz, a celebration of the New Year by the Coptic Orthodox Church. In contrast, while some Islamic organizations prefer determining the new month (and hence the new year) dates by local sighting of the moon, most Islamic institutions and countries, including Saudi Arabia, follow astronomical calculations to determine future dates of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the Gregorian Year, and the New Year does not come on the same day of the Gregorian calendar every year. The exact date can fall anytime between January 21 and February 21 of the Gregorian calendar. As for the New Year of South East Asian calendars that falls between April 13 and 15, which marks the beginning of spring, the Punjabi/Sikh New Year celebrates on the 14th of April. So be it Ethiopia in year 2010, Israel in year 5778 or China in year 4716, 194 countries are coexisting and are working to harmonize time for productivity and returns.
Therefore; it took quite a long time before the Gregorian calendar became the standard and January 1 became the start of the civil year… Globalization intensified our connectivity and intertwined our thinking moving forward at a pace “for anyone moving through space-time, ... and the clocks they bring along with them — including their biological clocks like their heart and their mental perceptions — no one ever feels time to be passing more quickly or more slowly. Or, at least, if you have accurate clocks with you, your clock always ticks one second per second. That’s true if you’re inside a black hole, here on Earth, in the middle of nowhere, it doesn’t matter" said theoretical physicist from Caltech. But what Einstein tells us is that "path you take through space and time can dramatically affect the time that you feel elapsing.” Time has also been branded as the start and end of individual’s exertion of energy laboring for a return that is often a designated currency. And since human capital is being measured in relative to time and output, then it is only fair that in 21st century where the 4th industrial era has taken over, to understand the power of our perception in shaping our behaviors and comportment based on time and space that impacts the individual experiences which then define the outcome of time. Now that ICT has increased the rapidity of information flow that has changed how we relate to time, it only reinforces that time heals, time is patience, time is evolution and time is life.
The Anderson Institute extensive repertoire on Time shows “Almost every culture or religion has a different way of explaining how, over time, human life came to be on this planet. Mythology constitutes some of the most interesting and captivating explanations....” So even if these holidays seasons have become a branded celebratory gatherings which gives each individual an opportunity to reboot and amplify decisions in regards to personal, professional and other…I conclude with Neil DeGrasse statement that "Time makes us all a prisoner of the present, forever transitioning from our own past into an unknown future."
Every year as we continue to define and experience time, we all aspire and prepare for better outcomes and greater growth; and may 2018 be a year of cross-cultural understanding, stronger intercultural relations and an embrace for our ever growing multicultural world. HAPPY NEW YEAR !