Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy New Year!

I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself this week . . .  ashamed of my ignorance.
But I don't think I was alone.  I wonder, did you know that we've just embarked on a New Year?

I'd invited a good friend to tea on Wednesday and, to my surprise, she arrived with a gift in the form of a box of small cakes.
It was a very kind thought, but, as I pointed out, I was the hostess, she'd no need to bring the food.

It was, she told me, New Year's Day . . .  these were special Islamic New Year cakes.  My friend is a Muslim.

The small cakes were stuffed with dates and proved absolutely delicious.

 Whilst drinking tea and wishing each other a very happy New Year,  we much enjoyed them.

But, as I say, I felt ashamed of my ignorance . . . and asked her to tell me more.

I learned that the Islamic world had just moved into the year 1437, and that a Public Holiday was being celebrated in many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

However, there was much more to it than that.
Whereas the Christian year is governed by the movement of the Earth around the Sun, Islamic years, so she told me, follow the waxing and waning of the Moon.

The month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Year, had started with the current New Moon.  Each of the eleven subsequent months will follow the same pattern.

As the waxing and waning of the Moon takes a few days less than the standard length of the Christian month, this means that the Islamic year slides slowly backwards through the seasons.
The New Year that has just taken place in the autumn will, in a few years' time, move backwards into the summer.

Last Wednesday's New Year will have been recognised by the majority of refugees flooding across Europe.

True, they won't be expecting celebrations or New Year cakes.  But wouldn't it be good if, at the very least, we recognised the pattern that shapes their lives, if we knew of their calendar?

The Sun and the Moon have a harmonic relationship in the heavens.  Would that their two calendars could follow a similar pattern here on Earth.