Celebrate!: A Look at Calendars and the Ways We Celebrate

Celebrate!: A Look at Calendars and the Ways We Celebrate

By Margo Westrheim
Oxford: One World, 1999. Paperback, x + 134 pages.

Cycles pervade existence, as the second fundamental proposition of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine tells us. And humans all over the world have sought for ways to measure them. Three cycles have been especially important in that search: the apparent movement of the sun around the earth (days), the phases of the moon (months), and the apparent point of rising of the sun (or stars like Sirius) on the horizon (years).

A particular problem with those three basic cycles, however, is that they do not fit together neatly. A month has about 29.5 days, a year a little less than 365.25 days or 12.4 months. The attempt to match up these three disparate cycles has produced a wide variety of calendars. But cultures also differ in what, when, and how they celebrate-that is, in their festivals, secular and sacred.

This popular treatment of calendars and festivals spans the globe and human history, from Egypt and Babylonia to the calendar of the future. In doing so, it shows something of both the variety of human culture and the universality of human concerns.


May/June 2000