Two years ago I wrote a blog post in which I explained why celebrating the end of one and the start of another earth orbit around the sun on the 31 December/1 January was actually totally arbitrary and had no real basis in calendrics or astronomy. I also explained that to merely justify it as traditional is inadequate because the arbitrary day chosen to celebrate has changed several times over the last two millennia. Two millennia is of course a mere fleabite in time compared to the roughly four and a half billion years that the solar system has existed (approx. 0.5×10-6 %). I also pointed out that this New Year’s celebration is only on the Gregorian calendar, and the many other calendars in use in the world celebrate this calendrical renewal on other diverse dates.
I suggested that for those of us in the Northern hemisphere the Winter Solstice would make for a much more rational date to celebrate New Year’s, as it marks the end of our solar journey into the dark, long nights and short days, and the beginning of our solar journey back into the light, long days and short nights. Therefore, as today is Winter Solstice I wish all of my readers Happy New Orbit and thank all of you for having accompanied my throughout the one that ends today.
The last 365 days were for those of us who live in the so-called western world, to say the least, a fairly bizarre one with the first year of the reign of the Shitgibbon in the White House and the decision on racist and xenophobic grounds by a substantial minority of the population of the UK to commit economic, social and political suicide by leaving the EU. One can only hope that the next cycle of our solar journal proves to be an improvement; I personally have serious doubts.
Those new to this apology for an informative blog might be slightly puzzled by next weeks Christmas Trilogy. Three of my favourite historical figures have their birthdays respectively on 25, 26 and 27 December: Isaac Newton 25 December 1642, Charles Babbage 26 December 1791 and Johannes Kepler 1571. This is of course not strictly accurate as Newton and Kepler are both Julian calendar or old style dates and Babbage is Gregorian calendar or new style. However, in this case, here at Renaissance Mathematicus command centre we ignore such quibbles and honour each gentleman with a blog post on his nominal birthday creating the Renaissance Mathematicus Christmas Trilogy.
So if you need a quiet #histSTM reflective moment over the holidays then you are more than welcome to come here and read your fill.