Archive for December 18th, 2009

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 69                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 70

Today’s Mileage:  10                                         Total Trip Mileage: 609


The red line marks our progress.

Holidays and Holy Days on December 18 :

Hijra – Islamic celebration of the emigration of Muhammad and his followers to Medina from Mecca in 622 c.e.


As I ride the bike I think about the Islamic holy day being celebrated today.  The Hijra marks the escape of the Prophet Muhammad from his enemies in Mecca to the city of Medina.  From there he grew in strength until he returned to take control of Mecca the holiest city for the people of the Arabian Peninsula. The importance of this event is that the Islamic calendar marked the year of this move as the beginning -Year 1 of the calendar.  Today is the year 1430 AH (after Hijra).

We are of course, fast approaching the Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Christ.  The importance of which can be seen on the Gregorian calendar as all time is marked as either before or after the year of this event. Today’s date is 2009 AD.  This led me to wondering about other cultures and religions and their calendars.

 According to the Buddhist calendar, today is the year 2553 BE (Buddha Era).  With a few regional variations their calendar starts with a significant event in Buddha’s life.  This event is defined as Buddha’s parinirvana and represents the entering into the final Nirvana which occurs upon the death of the body of one who has attained complete awakening.  It implies a release from the cycles of rebirth.

According to the Jewish calendar, today would be the year 5769 AM (in the year of the world).  This calendar is numbered from the epoch (starting point or the first day of the zeroth year) that, by Rabbinical reckoning, is the date of the creation of the world by God and reported in Genesis.  

The Hindus have a calendar system that projects itself back millions of years to the beginning of the universe and move forward into shorter and shorter epochs. The epoch of the current era, also called the “dark ages,” of the Hindu calendar began some 5106 years ago.

The Chinese and Japanese calendars number their years to indicate the number of years from the accession of the current emperor, regarding the calendar year during which the accession occurred as the first year.  In both cultures the Emperor was seen as a representative of God on earth.  The Emperor’s actions helped to either gain the favor or disfavor of the Gods.

There are other calendars I have not included. What this short review highlights is that each calendar starts from an epoch, which is often chosen to commemorate an important historical, mythological or religious event. While the Gregorian calendar is now used through much of the world it can be argued that this use does not represent an acceptance of Christ’s birth as the most important historical event, but occurs because of convenience or convention.  Other faiths and cultures might very well argue for the superiority of their system.  Are there other alternatives?

 In an effort to be “scientific” and avoid an association with any historic or mythological event we might use the system embrace by much of the field of astronomy: The Julian Date.  It was originally developed by the Renaissance philologist Joseph Scaliger.  This system is multicultural: it combines a solar and lunar cycle that coincided on January 1, 4713 BCE.  This date is then used at year one of the calendar.  Meaning that today’s date is December 18, 6722 JD.

However you number it and whichever holiday you are celebrating I wish you and your loved one a happy holiday!

Rising or setting there is only one source!

 The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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