Because of newspaper schedules, I actually wrote this column last year and it is being published this year.
When I thought about it, I once again asked that age old question, "Does anybody really know what year it is?"
This whole year and calendar business is very subjective. Most of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, which was decreed by Pope Gregory in 1582.
I watch the "Today" show regularly, and to the best of my knowledge, Willard Scott has not put anybody on the jelly jar that is 427 years old, so I thought I'd take a stab at explaining this calendar to you.
Greg, as his close friends called him, decided to update the Julian calendar, which was set up by Julius Caesar in 46 B. C.
Julius, who was called "Juke" by his close friends, couldn't have known it was 46 B.C., because nobody really knew in advance the exact time Jesus would be born. In fact, while B.C. is the abbreviation of Before Christ, most biblical scholars believe Jesus was born about 4 B.C. They also believe Jesus was born in the spring.
Confused? Me, too.
Think about this, the calendar we follow was set before we really knew much about what is now the United States. Just 90 years earlier, Columbus landed in the Caribbean and thought he was in India.
There are other calendars. On the Hebrew calendar, this is the year 5570 and we are in the month of Tevet. The New Year, under the Hebrew calendar, begins in September.
The federal government has a calendar of its own. The year begins Oct. 1. The Internal Revenue Service, which is the taxing outfit for that same government, works on a calendar year for most folks. The state government also has a calendar; its year begins in July.
Because of the Gregorian calendar, we celebrate the New Year a week after Christmas. It's a bunched up time, why not spread it out a bit.
If we're going to arbitrarily set dates for holidays, here are my suggestions.
Christmas: If Jesus was really born in the spring, then let's celebrate it in the spring. Why not combine Easter and Christmas into one gigantic celebration? The greatest benefit is that you wouldn't get as many sweaters and maybe you'd get more golf shirts. For all those folks who usually show up at church on Christmas and Easter, you could narrow it down to one day, resulting in less vacuuming.
New Years: How about October? We really don't have any good October holidays, with the exception of Columbus Day, the day we honor a man who thought he was in India.
Speaking of celebrations, I would also like to offer a different schedule for determining your age. We could count it yearly for the first 10 years of your life, and then go to a semi-annual schedule. I'd be turning 30, instead of 50 this year. They say 30 is the new 50, and under my system, it works out that way. If this is your 80th year under the old plan, you'd be a mere 45 under the new one.
See, I knew you'd like it. We'll talk about it at my Christmas party in April.
Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column runs every week in Sunday Life.