My Many New Years: Another Calendrics Blog Post

My Many New Years: Another Calendrics Blog Post

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 / Yom Shlishi, 10 Elul, 5782.
David Orenstein, Toronto, Canada

At 8:30 this morning, I will have gone to synagogue virtually. In particular, we will have heard the Shofar (ram’s horn) being blown to remind us of the forthcoming Days of Awe, Rosh ha-Shonah and Yom Kippur. We even have homework from the previous Tuesday (Yom shlishi): “What are did you do over the past year that you regret doing, and what is the pattern that you see?” And we’ll be back for the next two Tuesdays of Elul.

This is part of the preparations for the New Year, throughout the 29 days of the month of Elul 5782 (Saturday, August 27, at sunset, until Sunday, September 25, at sunset). The year 5783 will then start that sunset of September 25. It will be the 1st of Tishrei, 5783, and the first day of the two-day Holy Day of Rosh ha-Shonah (in Hebrew, literally “The Head of the Year”). Soon to be followed by the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (Yom revi’i, 10 Tishrei, 5783 = Tuesday / Wednesday, October 4 / 5, 2022)

So that is one of my New Years, my religious New Year. Today – Tuesday, September 6 - is another, my practical New Year. 

As a retired secondary school teacher (maths, science, biology, chemistry, French), the first day after Labour Day (the first Monday in September), marked/marks the beginning of work and the end of holidays. And I still feel that rhythm. That’s one reason I haven’t completed further “Celtic Counting” blog posts lately: the torpor of the late summer days of August had me going to café patios, swimming, reading, and napping. But now I’m gearing up for the focused efforts of scholarship, home maintenance, catching up with friends, going to my regular events (whether virtual or in person), etc. I even have marking to do: as a member of the BSHM Education Committee, I’ll be joining in judging the BSHM schools essay competition.

Yesterday, Labour Day, is the Canadian equivalent of May Day. As a long-time activist in my teachers’ union OSSTF, our massive march from Toronto’s downtown business district to the large (2 km2) site of our summer fair (the Canadian National Exhibition) grounds, marks the beginning of the next year of labour action. The New Democratic Party (= The Labour Party) forms the leading contingent of the march. And this year the Parade is especially important, because there are local elections on Monday, October 24 (Mayor and City Council along with the four state school boards, {Non-Catholic, Catholic} X {English, French}).

And then there’s the astronomical transition from Summer to Fall, the Autumnal Equinox, on Friday, September 23, at 1:04 am UTC = GMT. But that’s 2:04 am BST and 9:04 pm EDT for me in Toronto, but on Thursday, September 22. That’s for the Northern Hemisphere countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, or Ukraine. 

For Southern Hemisphere countries, like Australia, South Africa, or Argentina, it would be the transition from Winter into Spring, a Vernal Equinox.

Hopefully during the past couple of weeks you’ve been contemplating the upcoming Autumn (Spring, south of the Equator) season, the academic or school year, or just generally refocusing on you work, household or other obligations. Though probably you are on a different pattern than mine.

Even in Canada, there are other practical New Year patterns just for educators. For example, in Québec, the school year (La rentrée scolaire) began on Tuesday, August 23, 2022, for educators and Friday, August 30, 2022, for students. That’s fourteen days earlier, an entire fortnight!

The closest equivalent to Labour Day in the United Kingdom, as the practical switch from Summer to Autumn, is the August Bank Holiday (Monday, August 29, 2022) with its implications for the rhythm of life 

But that’s another story! 


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