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A journey through history and legends, myths and superstitions, religion and astronomy—and how they’ve shaped our views of time itself.
Three streams of history created our Western calendar—first from the Sumerians, then from the Celtic and Germanic peoples in the North, and finally from Palestine with the rise of Christianity. This compendium reveals fascinating facts about our attempts to measure and define time and how the days and months came to be, including:
The ancient Romans left sixty days of winter out of their calendar, considering these two months a dead time of lurking terror and therefore better left unnamed
The Romans had a horror of even numbers, hence the tendency for months with an odd number of days
Robed and bearded Celtic druids stand behind our New Year’s figure of Father Time
Thursday is Thor’s day, and Friday belongs to his faithful wife, Freya, queen of the Norse gods
The name Easter may derive from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre—whose consort was a hare
Michael Judge teases out the contributions of these cultures to the shape of the calendar, to the days and holidays, and to associated lore. In them, he finds glimpses of a way of seeing before the mechanical time of clocks, when the rhythms of man and woman matched those of earth and sky.