Tomorrow marks the celebration of the Chinese New Year and that got me thinking about calendars…and Chinese food.
I have a friend who has made a lifelong study of calendars and can dominate a conversation on the topic for hours. My interest is much less scholarly, and basically stems from a joke wherein comment is made that “This year marks the year 5682 in the Jewish calendar and 4719 in the Chinese calendar. What is the significance? Well, it means for 973 years the Jewish people couldn’t get Chinese takeout.”
Not a bad joke, but it makes light of a fairly important factor in our lives: how we mark our time.
I read recently that watches are making a comeback in fashion, which seems strange because everyone seems to have a cell phone which may drop calls but can keep time across time zone changes with pretty reliable regularity. But hours and minutes aren’t much help in meeting the challenges of larger issues, like paying taxes or going to church. And this has been true for thousands of years.
The Spanish found the Aztecs using a calendar that only had 260 days in a year and recycled itself every fifty-two years. For their part they were then using the Gregorian calendar which had been adopted only a year or so before by the Pope to even out when Easter was celebrated. Previously the Julian calendar was the rule because Caesar Augustus and Julius Caesar had modified the calendar in use to get their own month. And then there were the above-mentioned Jewish and Chinese calendars, which marked religious holidays in their own right.
For my part, I celebrate holidays from several calendars. I mark the Chinese New Year by preparing a meal framed around Chinese food, a tradition I started some twenty years ago when my mother was visiting and I hosted a party for her friends. I also celebrate Easter and Passover with traditional foods. My stomach evidently could be a model of religious tolerance for my mind.