Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

What Time Is It?

Selected opinions from a seeking mind

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What Time Is It?

What time is it? ---- By the way, Happy New Year!

It’s that time again; Daylight Savings Time. The brain child of Benjamin Franklin in 1784 has been a Spring ritual that gained popularity during the World Wars I and II to conserve energy. I believe Daylight Savings Time should be eliminated altogether and when we “spring ahead” the weekend of March 12-14 2010, it should be the last time. Furthermore there are too many time zones. In these days of high speed travel and instant connectivity, the varying times within the continental USA are confusing. China, which is slightly smaller than the USA in square miles, has one time zone. Since we outsource a great deal of manufacturing there, send them a time zone. Seriously though, I believe two time zones would be ample, the current Pacific Zone should be merged with the Mountain Zone and the Central merged into the Eastern. Alaska could/would have a modified Pacific Zone for the entire state. The geographic boundaries of time are in 30° two hour increments; the majority of the continental USA is within two time boundaries. Rhetorically, would the time between boundaries then be two hours? Works for me, but we know that I am “different”. (A better approach however, would be a one hour shift. The media and travel industries would benefit from this change.) 

The calendar and the dates have been changed frequently during recorded history, all in an effort to align with the solar year to be consistent with the time the Earth orbits around the Sun. The calendar evolved from eight, ten, or twelve months with intercalary months, mainly February used for adjustment. The beginning of the year (and sometimes the calendar proper) corresponded to various methods ---- significant events; start of a war, beginning of a reign, just to enumerate a few. Months were sub-divided by Kalends, first day of the month. Nones traditionally the day of the half moon, either day 5 or 7, and Ides, traditionally the day of the full moon, either day 13 or 15.

The correct current date was so confused that he years at the beginning of the Julius Caesar reign were deemed “the years of confusion” until the emperor decreed a year (46 B. C.) of 445 days in length to “correct” the previous errors. This was the provenance of the Julian calendar when in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII promulgated the Gregorian calendar, which was soon adopted by most Catholic countries. The Protestant countries followed later, and the countries of Eastern Europe even later. The British Empire (Great Britain, territories, colonies including USA) finally adopted the “new format” in 1752 by removing 11 days (Wednesday, 3 September – Thursday, 13 September) from the calendar.

The removal of the 11 days from the calendar was not seamless. There were riots and other public outrage demanding “Give us our eleven days back!”  All previous date references were not adjusted, simply ignored. A noteworthy exception was George Washington’s birthday. Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (Old Style) and February 22, 1732 (New Style). He did not celebrate February 22nd as his birthday until later in life. Note: The official designation for this holiday is Washington’s Birthday not Presidents Day. For those who dreaded the Millennium --- your fears were unfounded because the Christianity based calendar despite all of the adjustments is still several years in arrears, meaning the Millennium had already occurred before 2000.

April 1st was New Years Day in France in 1582 (March 25th, Annunciation Day was New Years Day in the U. K.) ---by the way, a forthcoming Happy New Year. The ancients believed and probably rightfully so, that the year began with the first day of Spring; calendars were based on lunar cycles. There are several explanations for the origin of April Fools' Day, but here is the most plausible one. In 1582, Pope Gregory declared the adoption of his Gregorian calendar to replace the Julian calendar and New Year's Day was officially changed to January 1st. It   took awhile for everyone in France to hear the news of this major change and others obstinately refused to accept the new calendar, so a lot of people continued to celebrate New Year's Day on the first of April - earning them the name "April fools." The April fools were subjected to ridicule and practical jokes and the tradition was born. The butts of these pranks were first called poisson d'avril fish" because a young naive fish is easily caught. A common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke. This evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continues on the first day of April.


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