why the seasons do not align with the beginning of the year?


Why is it that the seasons do not align with the beginning/end of the calendar year? For instance, winter in the northern hemisphere (summer in the southern hemisphere) runs from the beginning of December to the end of February. Why is this? I would have thought that when people were inventing calendars way back in the distant past that they would have aligned the beginning of the year with the changing of the seasons or maybe one of the solstices or equinoxes. But it seems like the change of seasons and solstices/equinoxes occur at kind of arbitrary times..

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5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Calendars are human constructs. Additionally, there are hundreds of calendars still in use today. If you look back in history, there are actually some calendars that focus on the seasons and equinoxes, etc. The truth is that a good majority of the things we consider as fixed in regard to time and timekeeping actually aren’t. This is the reason we have leap-days and leap-seconds. In the same way most of the US changes their clocks twice a year, it’s entirely possible that we could choose to move our calendar and change how long months are, what day the weeks start on, etc. Some have proposed a calendar where every month is 30 days, and each quarter has an extra day added for the equinox/solstice. This would turn into a massive, global logistical nightmare though.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you turn on your stove for 5 minutes then turn it off, will it be hottest when you just turn it on? No, it will be hottest just before you turn it off.

Same concept for when the sun reaches high noon – the hottest part of day is around 2pm.

And same concept for seasons. Astronomically, June 21 is the longest day of the year but it’s not typically the hottest. December 21 is the shortest day of the year but it isn’t the coldest. At these times our Earth’s tilt puts us as close or far away as it gets (which is what causes seasons). But because we have an atmosphere, we take time to reach the highest heat.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The ELI5 simple answer is that calendars and years are human concepts.

Seasons are natural concepts. We named them but they occur naturally. Whereas years could start any time because there is no natural phenomena that signals a new year, other than a full rotation of the sun.

A year could start and end on any day whereas the seasons are fairly consistent.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s interesting history behind that! It significantly pre-dates the Gregorian calendar and dates back to the ancient Romans (and actually, part of it to before that).

>The Roman Empire set their *religious* new year on the Ides (15th) of March which is close to the Vernal Equinox


>The year used in dates during the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire was the *consular* year, which began on the day when consuls first entered office—[…] 1 January from AUC 601 (153 BC). The Julian calendar, which began in AUC 709 (45 BC), continued to use 1 January as the first day of the new year. [as did the Gregorian calendar afterward]

In other words, it was totally a political thing. Ancient politics from BC times. The day the new politicians took office.

But it varied in different times and places:

>During the Middle Ages, under the influence of the Catholic Church, many Western European countries moved the start of the year to one of several important Christian festivals—25 December (supposed Nativity of Jesus), 25 March (Annunciation), or Easter (France), while the Byzantine Empire began its year on 1 September and Russia did so on 1 March until 1492 when the new year was moved to 1 September.

So as you can see from the history, sometimes people in different places at different times *did* want it in the spring (and in some cases in the fall).

And notably, from the 12th century up until the 1750s, in Britain and the British colonies, it *kind of* started in the spring.

>In common usage, 1 January was regarded as New Year’s Day and celebrated as such, but from the 12th century until 1751 the legal year in England began on 25 March (Lady Day)

Kinda seems like the flip-side of the Romans, doesn’t it?

So that answers why January 1st, in the middle of winter, instead of say the spring eqinox, and shows that since ancient times, both have actually been considered the start of a new year at times. But still, why put January 1 *almost* in the middle of winter?

Think of a clock – an analog clock, a cycle of time. The new date starts at midnight, the time when we’re about midway between shifting away from evening and start shifting towards morning (idealized, since that varies depending on season and latitude). Similarly, mid-winter is when we’re midway between shifting away from fall and start shifting towards spring.

Ok, that makes sense, but why not the winter solstice? Simple answer – Saturnalia and other festivals. Midwinter festivals are an ancient practice predating even Rome. And they could get pretty raucous and last awhile. The Romans didn’t want to have to start a new legal year and have people take office right during the middle of all that, so they shifted a week or so to give people time to sober up and get home.

So the main reason it’s January 1st instead of the winter solstice is that people were a little too busy with drunken debauchery to start all the official stuff of a new year right at that moment.

And that is why programmers hate dealing with dates and times and such. None of it is really logical or rational, it’s all politics and religion and custom, and that changes frequently. But oddly, starting the date at midnight and starting the new year on January 1st have (mostly) held up since ancient times (with some exceptions).

– More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar#Beginning_of_the_year

Anonymous 0 Comments

to oversimplify:

They did for the regions they were created in. Those calendars were either abandoned for other regions calendars or they were modified well beyond the original configuration.

Why? a plethora of reasons.

Such as?

well conquests and business played a roll

We made mistakes in figured them out later fixing them a lot later causing the days to shift.

We added months and redistributed the days for political and religious reasons, this is why october isn’t the eighth month by the by despite “Oct”. Attempts to honor or hamulate Julius Caesar Played a roll and so forth.

Religions moved shit about here and there to line up with politics across civilizations and time. for example: Christs birthday was September not december.

Our ability to measure time became more accurate.

What you’re seeing is the end result of centuries of revision for a too many reasons to count.