There is a lot of talk these days about the year 2012, and the fact that the ancient Mayan calendar, stops abruptly at the year 2012.
At first, the messengers of doom and gloom among us, were all too happy to announce the end of time, and that our planet is at the end of its living cycle.
After all…the ancient wise Mayan people said so….
A lot of evangelist preachers who believe in the wrath of God and in judgement day and the end of time, were all too happy to jump on the wagon and to call people to repent, and to “accept” Jesus before the day of reckoning comes.
Even New age thinkers and spiritual people who believe that life is much more gentle than this, and that this is not the end, still concluded that it is a “spiritual end” and a beginning of a “new era” that will come on Dec 21 2012
I have been keeping quiet about this subject for a long time… But now I can hold my breath no longer and I will speak my peace.
What amazes me first, is that people do not doubt the wisdom of drawing conclusions from a civilization that drove itself into extinction.
They may have had many artistic, cultural wisdom and other advancements, but maybe… Just maybe…. their calendar and methods of measuring time, were not among their strengths….
The second thing that I wish to point, is that many ancient civilizations on the earth, have used many different systems to measure time and each created different calendars based on their own special needs and beliefs.
Calendars are usually based on the cyclical movements of one or more of the celestial bodies, like the sun and the moon.
The Gregorian calendar that is used by the West and internationally today, is based on the sun.
The ancient Egyptian as well as the Islamic calendar, are based on the moon.
The Chinese calendar is dually based on both the sun, the moon, and during certain periods in ancient China, even on the planet Jupiter.
The ancient Egyptians used a calendar of 12 months and 30 days in each month, for a total of 360 days per year.
About 4000 B.C. they added five extra days at the end of every year to bring it more into alignment with the solar year.
These five added days became a major yearly festival, because it was believed to be unlucky to work during those five added days.
The Egyptians had calculated that the solar year was actually closer to 365.25 days, but instead of adding a single leap day every four years to account for the fractional day (as we do now), they let the one-quarter day accumulate.
After 1,460 solar years, (or four periods of 365 years,) the Egyptian months fell completely out of sync with the seasons, so that the summer months eventually fell during winter.
Only once every 1,460 years, did their calendar year coincide precisely with the solar year.
In addition to the civic calendar, the Egyptians also had a separate religious calendar that was based on 291.5 days of the lunar cycle and was more closely linked with the agricultural cycles and the movements of the stars.
The Gregorian calendar which most of us use today, is a solar calendar and it is a newer version of the previous Roman (Julian) calendar.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar inaugurated the calendar bearing his name, with its non-lunar months consisting of 30 or 31 days each.
Another ancient calendar system that still exists today, is the Chinese calendar, who have always insisted on the interrelationship between humans and nature.
In ancient china, there were a few complex systems of measuring time.
The years were divided by the Chinese Zodiac and each year was assigned a symbolic animal.
It was believed that each person born on that certain year, would have some of the characteristic of that power animal.
Since it took twelve years to complete a full cycle until your Zodiac animal will be counted again, you could be only 6 cycles old and an equivalent of 72 years old in the Gregorian calendar.
The 12 Chinese Zodiac animals were also linked to the traditional Chinese agricultural (solar) calendar..
The Chinese agricultural solar calendar, was design to help people work the land better, to understand the fickleness of the weather, and to apply better methods to planting, cultivating and harvesting.
Instead of months, this calendar was divided into 24 two week segments, known as “Solar Terms,” or “Solar Nodes.”
The name for the twenty-four “Solar Nodes,” was poetically assigned as an analogy to symbolize the movements (or nodes) of a bamboo, as it swayed with the changes of the seasons.
I included those twenty-four nodes below, because they are not well known by non-Chinese people, and because they are a fabulous agricultural calendar with a poetic twist:
The TWENTY-FOUR SOLAR “NODES”, their Chinese names and approximately how they fall on the Gregorian calendar:
1. Beginning Of Spring (li ch’un) Feb. 5
2. Rain Water (yu shui ) Feb. 20
3. Stirring of Hibernating Insects (ching che) March 7
4. Spring Equinox (ch’un fen) March 22
5. Clear Brightness (ch’ing ming) April 6
6. Grain Rain (ku yu) April 21
7. Beginning Of Summer (li hsia) May 6
8. Small Fullness of Grain (hsiao man) May 22
9. Grain in Beard (mang chung) June 7
10. Summer Solstice (hsia chih) June 22
11. Slight Heat (hsiao shu) July 8
12. Great Heat (ta shu) July 24
13. Beginning Of Autumn (li ch’iu) Aug. 8
14. Stopping of Heat (ch’u shu) Aug. 24
15. White Dew (pai lu) Sept. 8
16. Autumn Equinox (ch’iu fen) Sept. 24
17. Cold Dew (han lu) Oct. 9
18. Descending Of Frost (shuang chiang) Oct. 24
19. Beginning Of Winter (li tung) Nov. 8
20. Slight Snow (hsiao hsueh) Nov. 23
21. Great Snow (ta hsueh) Dec. 7
22. Winter Solstice (tung chih) Dec. 22
23. Slight Cold (hsiao han) Jan. 6
24. Great Cold (ta han) Jan. 21
Now…. To take you back to the year 2012… And to the doom prediction of the end of the Mayan calendar……. in the Chinese calendar, the year 2012 is expected to be a FABULOUS year.
If you are willing to believe in an ancient system of measuring time… In a calendar system……., why not believe in the ancient Chinese calendar?….
The year 2012 in the Chinese calendar, will be the year of the Dragon, which comes only once every 12 years.
The year 2000, was the last time we celebrated the year of the dragon, and it was the year of the Golden White Metal Dragon. (If you remember, it was also a year of great fear, where people feared planes will fall from the sky because of electronic malfunction related to computers’ supposed inability to handle the numeral year 00)
2012, is the Chinese year of the Black Water Dragon.
The Black Water-Element Dragon, is considered to be a mighty Dragon!
The year 2012 is thus expected to bring much good fortune, as the Dragon is a major symbol of good fortune in the Chinese culture.
In Chinese astrology, the Dragon constellation is believed to be brave and full of honor, and to be the guardian of the Eastern sky.
According to tradition, the Dragon brings the Four Blessings of the East: Wealth, Virtue, Harmony and Longevity.
Of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon is considered to be the most special, as it is a powerful mystical creature rather than an earthly animal.
It is believed that we can expect grand and drastic things to happen this year…..
Draconian things…..Bigger than life…….There may be spectacular changes and successes, as well as the possibilities of crashes and failures.
Throughout history parents in China have hoped to have children during Dragon years, as it was believed that leaders, powerful people and people who will change the world, would be born under the year of the Dragon.
The Dragon is associated with Spring, and so the year of the Dragon is associated with the blooming of romance, of new ideas, of dreams and of money and prosperity.
The fact that 2012 is also a Water year, makes it extra powerful.
Water nourishes the Dragon’s fixed element of Wood, giving this Dragon extra powers to bring good luck and to help realize people’s dreams.
2012 is also a “Yang” year. (Yin and Yang being the two attributes of everything in the relative Universe, according to Chinese philosophy.)
Yang Water year, is like a flowing mighty river, rather than a stagnant standing pond.
It implies that things will move, ideas will flow, creativity will come in abundance, the possibilities of economies boom, and love will blossom.
Compounded with the Black Dragon, this Yang Water year of 2012, is likely to be an exceptionally exciting year.
Soaring on the wings of the dragon, the year 2012 has the possibility of being a fabulous year to remember…..
I would like to mention that the Hindu calendar is very different and very interesting calendar as well.
The Hindu calendar is based on lunar months corresponding to the phases of the moon.
In one year there are twelve months with 29.5 days.( accounting for a total of 354 days.)
Because the Hindu calendar is tightly linked to the annual Hindu festivals, this shortfall means that the date of each festival moves back 11 days each year.
To rectify this, an extra leap month is added about once every three years.
The Hindu calendar is therefore “Luni-Solar,” with a precise month and an approximate year.
The year starts with Makara Sankranti, the sun’s entrance into Capricorn, and it is divided into two halves and six seasons.
Within each month, there are two “fortnights,” each consisting of 15 “lunar days.”
There are two main Hindu calendars.
In North India, the month generally begins with the full moon.
In South India with the new moon.
Festival days will still fall on the same day, or very closely, but the name of the month may be different.
For example, Krishna’s Birthday falls on the eighth day of the dark moon.
In the North of India, it is in the month of Bhadra; in the South it is the month of Shravana.
The week is divided into seven days, each corresponding to one of seven planets.
Unlike in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, no day is considered more special during the week, but each day is related to a specific deity.
For example, Monday is often associated with Shiva and Tuesday with Hanuman.
Hindus may perform fasts and recite prayers to supplicate a particular deity on the corresponding day of the week.
The day usually begins at dawn, or just before, according to which astronomical and astrological systems are used.
Instead of hours, each day in the Hindu calendar, is divided into 15 Muhurtas, each of about 48 minutes.
(the night is similarly divided.)
Traditionally Brahmans Hindus will chant the Gayatri mantra at sunrise, noon and sunset because these are considered particularly important times of the day.
The first two Muhurtas (the equivalent to an hour) of the morning before dawn, are considered the most auspicious time of the day and are usually devoted to spiritual practices.
I wish to add that the Chinese calendar, also has names for the different full moons during the year.
Moon before festival
Just to bore you with some more useless facts:
By the 15th century the Roman Julian calendar had drifted behind the solar calendar by about a week.
In 1500’s two successive Popes reformed the Roman calendar into the Gregorian calendar that we use today.
The Gregorian calendar was not adopted throughout the world immediately
It was accepted slowly over the course of hundreds of years.
Acceptance of the Gregorian Calendar:
1582 Catholic states of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, and Poland
1584 German and Swiss Catholic states
1700 German, Swiss, and Dutch Protestant States, Denmark, and Norway
1752 Great Britain and its possessions (including the American colonies)