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Almanaque

Alexandre Cherman

April first!

Every Saturday you get a new entry. And Saturday has arrived! Or not? I’m writing this on Monday, to be published on Wednesday. So this whole Saturday thing is a lie… APRIL’S FOOL!

And every year, when this day comes, I feel compelled to write about it, explaining why April first is known as Fool’s Day. I did exactly that, right here.

Quoting an old entry that really is a quote about an older book is not illegal. It is just ugly. But that is not what I’m going to do (but I just did! APRIL’S FOOL!!!)

I just couldn’t help noticing that the original text of the book began like this: “Even though the beginning of the year was transferred to January 1st in Ancient Rome…” Guess whenm in Ancient Rome, this happened? Yes! During the Julius Caesar reform, exactly where we are in our sequential storytelling…

The Year of Confusion was 445 days long, we know. This is to say it was 80 days longer than a regular year, with its 365 days. But after more than 700 years of the Pompilian Calendar, the error was larger than that. (Do the math: if absolutely no intercalation was made for 700 years, the Pompilian Calendar should have been wrong in 175 days — one day for every four years). The real error was more like 150 days… Or five months, approximately.

The Pompilian year was five months in front of the astronomical year. (“In front” since it was shorter, so it ended faster). What Julius Caesar did was delay the beginning of the new year in five months, to put it back in sync with Nature. And to do that, he could have easily created five extra months. But that was not what he did.

To put March back where it belonged, five months ahead, he created three extra months and moved around two others. January and February, which occurred in the end of the year, were brought to the beginning of the year, before March. Thus, the “push” was just the right size!

And there is no harm in reminding you that February originally came before January, when both months were in the end of the year. But since January was a tribute to Janos, it made sense to keep it at the edge of the year. Thus January, from last month became the first month, and February, which was the eleventh, became the second. And that is how it is since that time. ■