The Year with Eleven Missing Days

Yesterday, you may recall (if you called by, that is!) that I’d made a big hoo-hah about the post being written on March 25th.

March 25th has a link to today, April 1st.

But, before I get to the link, I shall write about March 25th itself, or New Year’s Day, as it used to be known.

Yes, you read that correctly! March 25th used to be New Year’s Day. Throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, New Year’s Day was celebrated then; it was moved to January 1st by Pope Gregory sometime in the Sixteenth Century.

Many civilisations celebrated the New Year in the Spring… the ancient Egyptians did with the spring flooding I mentioned the other day.

March 25th is Lady Day, the day of the Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the day when the Angel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary to advise her that she was to be Mother of Jesus Christ. The feast day today tends to move dates so that it doesn’t fall within Easter week, but March 25th is its official date.

The UK Tax Year also used to begin on March 25th, but in 1751 eleven days had to be removed from the calendar, to bring the UK’s calendar pretty much in line with the rest of Europe and beyond, including the seasons. Back then, the UK government decreed that the day after Wednesday 2nd September 1752 would be Thursday 14th September. The thing is, tax was due for the whole year, so the start date of the tax year was also moved to April 5th to compensate for the tax having to be paid early due to the missing eleven days. Another day was introduced later, but that’s pretty much by the by.

The Feast of the Annunciation’s octave, or eighth day, is April 1st. April 1st is also the date that the early folk used to end their New Year celebrations… or rather, some of them. When New Year’s Day was moved to January 1st, those celebrating New Year on that day would call those who didn’t celebrate that date fools.

There’s always an odd twist or two when it comes to history, isn’t there?

January 1st used to have a feast day all to itself… the Feast of Fools. The day when servants and slaves used to dress up and mock their masters, and generally eat, drink and be merry. This feast day was gradually suppressed, it was so frowned upon.

So, April Fool’s Day now marks the end of a period of time celebrating a New Year, when that time’s fools’ day was our modern New Year’s Day. You couldn’t make it up.

Saturn’s Colossus

This post was written on March 25th 2015. Here’s a screenshot of the screen for evidence:

The date and time is in the bottom right corner, although it isn’t clear in the screenshot. Here it is on its own:

Why am I writing this? Thank you for asking… I shall tell you!

The above image is of Saturn’s moon, Titan. A moon quite similar to Earth in that it has a rocky and liquid surface, seasons, weather systems, lakes, seas and rivers. Quite different to Earth in that the liquid is methane and the atmosphere is nitrogen. Also, they say it is too cold to support life… although there could be life ‘but not as we know it’… I mean if we can bring frozen prehistoric plants back to life, anything’s possible, don’t you think?

Titan always has one side facing Saturn, and because of the atmosphere the surface features are usually covered in a yellowy murky haze, making all surface features very hard to see. The above image was observed on a rare clear day, which also seems to dis-prove my life theory, but you just don’t know.

Titan was discovered in 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, who had been inspired by Galileo’s finding of the Jovian moons several years earlier. It was actually discovered on 25th March 1655, which is why I took the screenshot of the date and time earlier in this post. I do have method in my madness sometimes, although what suddenly made me want to write about Titan earlier this evening is another mystery. But, I digress. 360 years ago today, Titan was discovered.

Originally, Titan was thought to have been the largest moon in the Solar System, but that title has now been claimed by Jupiter’s Ganymede, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post; but Titan is still larger than the planet Mercury.

For years, Titan was known only as Saturn’s Moon, until sometime in the nineteenth century when it was officially named Titan.

And, you may or may not believe this, but the word count of this post has now reached 360 words. Look, here’s another corner screenshot to prove it:

Will these coincidences never cease? And yes, it really has taken me that long just to write this!

Incidentally, 360 has 24 divisors; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 24, 30, 36, 40, 45, 60, 72, 90, 120, 180, 360; and 24 is one of them. As is one.

And in the year 360 Europe was invaded by the Huns.

Also in the year 360, Saint Ninian was born… also known in Scotland as Ringan, and Northern England as Trynnian. There was a school in Edinburgh, St Trinnians, of which the books about the unruly schoolgirls was based… no link to Titan at all here, but I thought I’d just throw that in for good measure.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something like Trinian’s Cove or something similar on Titan. Well, stranger things have happened!

Hydrochoüs, by Jove

So, Spring has sprung.

In days gone by, and by that I mean years, Spring was heralded by the flooding of the River Nile in Egypt which made the banks and surrounding areas very fertile, which in turn helped to create the ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Those ancient Egyptians, well some of them, believed that the flooding was caused when a little-known character by the name of Aquarius flung his jar into the river, causing the flood. Where the ancient Egyptians welcomed these floods, the ancient Babylonians were plagued by floods, which were also caused by Aquarius, so they didn’t see him in the same light.

Just goes to prove that you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

Back in those days of old, Aquarius was still a constellation, like today. Some referred to this constellation as Hydrochoüs, and included in that ‘some’ is the God known as Zeus.

Aquarius represents the water-bearer; and is Latin for cup carrier.

Legend has it that that Zeus made a devilishly handsome young man Immortal after changing himself into an eagle and kidnapping the lad, who was busy tending sheep at the time on the hillside. Zeus was infatuated by this youth, so much so that he needed to have him serve his drinks forever. Obviously, a mere mortal couldn’t perform such a task, so Zeus had no choice but to turn the young lad into an Immortal. The young lad, whose name was Ganymede, did as he was asked, up to a certain point.

Obviously, Ganymede’s father was furious that his son had been kidnapped by Zeus, but was calmed when Zeus sent Tros (Ganymede’s father) a herd of fine horses, the kind used by the Gods themselves. (Incidentally, Tros is the one who the ancient city of Troy is named after, but I digress)

All of the Gods liked Zeus’ choice of cup-bearer… apart from Hera, Zeus’ wife / sister / consort, who thought Ganymede to be a rival for her husband’s affections. Apparently he wasn’t, but jealousy can cause many a strange thought; even more so when the reality tends to get somewhat ‘twisted’.

Being granted eternal youth and immortality wasn’t enough for Ganymede, such is the petulance of youth, so one day he refused to serve Zeus. He poured his wine away, which in turn started the whole flooding process.

As Zeus was fond of Ganymede, rather than punish him, he gave him the constellation Hydrochoüs. Well, what else could he do? He’d already made him Immortal.

Now, many, many years later.

Zeus’ Roman equivalent name is Jove, or Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System, and it has several moons. One of them, Ganymede, is the largest moon in the Solar System, and is larger than the planet Mercury…. it would be classed as a planet itself if it orbited the Sun on its own accord, but it has to be classed as a moon as it orbits Jupiter.  Ganymede has a subterranean sea and an atmosphere made up of oxygen. It has its own aurorae. They are saying that life is unlikely there, but oxygen and water are quite important where life is concerned, so it can’t exactly be ruled out.

And is it me, or do the markings on the above image of Ganymede not look like city lights?

I shall leave that one with you…

One Minute Ramble: Be Creative

Bored with the way things are at present? Be creative and change them.

Change is really the only constant in the world. If you don’t like it, change it. Look beyond the horizon, see a different future… feel it… live it.

Are you creative? No? Think of a different way of saying no, then, and make a start!

What’s Black and White and Red All Over?

Welcome to how I see the world on occasions. Literally, this time, not just through the blog…

Sherri has challenged me this week to share five secrets with you, so I thought I’d go slightly more personal than usual, as secrets tend to be more, erm, personal.

On Monday, I revealed how I tend to go ever redder when out in the sun.
Tuesday, I revealed my red aura to the world.
On Wednesday (I’m red in the face with embarrassment with this one), the secret revealed that day had no link to the colour red… it was me liking a certain number and letter.
Thursday’s secret revealed how I saw a large red object silently fall from the sky many eons ago.
And today’s post is a glimpse into how I view the world when I come down with a migraine.

I don’t get headaches usually, nor do I feel unwell with my migraines, but I lose vision, and instead I’m treated to a spectacular twinkling light show.

The sparkles tend to start off small, in the centre of my vision, and then gradually grow and curve themselves around the edge of my vision, usually ‘opting’ for one corner.

Usually black and white, I occasionally get a glimpse of electric blue thrown in for good measure. And to answer the question posed in the title of this post, the answer is simply not one of my migraines!*

The actual name for this visual phenomenon is a Migraine Aura, and apparently they are quite common. They are harmless (unless, obviously, one unfortunately suffers from the headaches and nausea associated with a migraine) and can occur at any time during the migraine attack. Sometimes before, sometimes during, sometimes after and sometimes they don’t occur at all.

Although in my case, the aura is the migraine.

Resting in a darkened room is the best way to clear one of these auras, although they can take anything from five minutes to an hour to clear. I’ve had the odd day when they’ve come and gone like clockwork – I was in and out of a darkened room like nobody’s business!

Usually, they occur when we’re tired… or stressed… but they can ‘come on’ without warning. Relaxing helps; but I’ve read the best way to let it pass is just to enjoy the show and not worry about it, and this seems to work with me. As well as resting in the darkened room…

Obviously, everyone’s different, and with anything health-related: any worries go straight to the doctor to be checked out.

*Actually, the correct answer to the question posed in the title is the theme that runs through this week’s series of posts (red) and the white lettering on black background (or black on white if this is being read sometime in the future and the theme to the blog has changed. The theme to the posts, however is still red in that case, even Wednesday.)

The Object that Fell from the Sky

Many, many, many, many years ago, I bore witness to my first ever extra-terrestrial mystery. I describe it as extra-terrestrial as I can not think, even to this day, what it was.

I would have thought I’d made the whole thing up had it not been for one of my friends seeing the very same thing, although he was in a completely different place to me.

We were children. Well, older rather than younger, but still at school. We were doing the usual kids things, all on the streets playing hide and seek or something. We played it differently, where we were in two teams, and could hide over a large area – even in different streets. If we were spotted by someone on the other team, we were captured, and taken back to ‘base’. We could be ‘freed’ by another team member, and then ‘catch’ the one who was holding us captive. It was a very technical game.

It was early evening, and dark.

I was walking down one of the streets when I noticed something bright and red, about the size of the Moon (perspective-wise) literally drop out of the sky, and behind the houses. It was simply circular in shape, and it had no ‘tail’ or anything following it. There was also no sound… no engine noise if it was an aircraft, or no crackling thundering noise if it was a meteorite.

It appeared to be so big, I was expecting to hear an explosion when it landed, as it fell so quickly… imagine seeing something the size of the Moon drop from the sky within a second or two… that was what I saw… but no explosion came. It was just the big red round orb that dropped from the sky and nothing else.

I decided to head back home, really to see if anybody else had seen the same thing.

I got back to my home avenue, and saw my friend, who was on the opposing team. He was pale. All he said was “I’m not playing now, I’ve just seen something terrifying.”

He said nothing more, but I knew he’d seen the same thing I had.

I never saw anything like that again. I never read anything about it, and nobody else mentioned seeing it. But that cool, clear, dark night, a very large bright red object literally fell from the skies.

This week, I’m revealing secrets. Sherri has challenged me to do this, to reveal five in total. This is the fourth one… and the third with the connection being ‘red’.