Thursday, September 18, 2008

Project Blog It: September

What do we even mean by the term September? The seventh month? Unless I'm counting on my fingers incorrectly, this is the ninth month. And what about that so-old-as-to-not-even-be-archaic suffix -ber that we now use only for the names of four months?

It still amazes me that much of how we measure time was devised so long ago in Babylon. The original 360 days per annum had a nice equivalence with the 360 degrees of a circle. Time as well as space were marked by the same measure.

Yet somehow--via the Hebrews, via the Persians, via the Greeks, via the Romans, and/or via the Goths--we still have seven-day weeks hearkening back to when there were (only) seven gods, seven wanderers: the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But our Woden's Day never turned into "Middle Day" during the Industrial Revolution.

During the so-called American Revolution, our Founders never shot at the clocks or renamed the months after their newer gods of Liberty and Justice. The French do everything with so much more panache. We just kept shifting the equinoxes until Easter finally fell on Easter again. Not too early, not too late. Finally Washington's birthday could be set in stone.

And we're still using the name of a month that hasn't really existed in about 1600 years.

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