Monday, October 10, 2016

Just Blame the Romans

            With autumn now in full swing, naturally I’m thinking about other seasons. Which led me to an ever-recurring question of mine: why does the new year start in the middle of winter?

            I mean, really, it makes no sense at all. What’s so special about that specific time of year? Nothing at all. Why doesn’t the new year start weeks earlier, during the winter solstice? That at least has some logic to it: the transition from the longest night of the year, after which each day gets longer and longer. That seems like a nice, optimistic way to start a year.

            Or, better yet, the first day of spring. Spring is when all the plants are coming back to life; all the animals are coming out of hibernation. It’s the time of new life and beginnings – doesn’t that sound like the perfect time to start a new year?

            Seriously, sometimes human decisions make no sense.

            I decided to look it up, just in case there really is a good reason for this nonsense. There isn’t. The only excuse we have is that when Julius Caesar fixed the calendar so it theoretically correctly calculated the length of the year (1000 years had it out of sync by a week), he decided to start the new year at the ancient Roman feast to Janus, the two-faced god of doorways and beginnings. I guess that made sense for the times, but you’d think we’d have updated our system by now.


            It does show us another example of how much the Romans impacted modern society. From now on, whenever something about the way the world is run makes no sense, I think I’ll just blame the Romans.





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2 comments:

  1. You may be right, but there is one thing I don't think we can blame on the Romans - Spelling. Didn't Latin have a well organized logical spelling system very much unlike the illogical hodgepodge which we call modern English spelling?

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    1. Well, while they aren't entirely at fault, they are largely to blame: http://mentalfloss.com/article/62995/why-english-spelling-so-weird
      Key points of blame: Christian Missionaries arriving in England from Rome, and classicists trying to spell words more like their Latin (and Greek) relatives.

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