Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There Are No Lunar Calendars In Space

I was thinking about Easter this weekend (duh!) and pondering the nature of the festival and how it would change in a different environment. My family and I do not celebrate the Christian holiday, but rather the older festival that runs concurrent and incorporates much of the symbology we see today in the Northern hemisphere. The older festival also happened to coincide with the weekend itself this year. I'm speaking, of course, of the equinox, which is used in Easter calculations and a celebration in and of itself.

It's also an astronomical point, the point where the center of the sun lies directly over the equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length. But the equinox here on Earth has unique properties. On another planet, there will be equinoxes...but they won't be the same. The seasons other planets experience will occur according to their positions and points in their orbits around their primaries. They'll happen at different times, and have different effects and meanings.

I got to thinking just how many of our holidays--great and small--are fixed on or near an astronomical event, and realized that on another planet, those astronomical events would be fundamentally different. A year on another planet will likely not be the same length of time as ours. Days and weeks and months and seasons would all have their own unique feel and length. It's an idea that's as awesome as it is freaky. I mean, I'm a seasonally affected person. It doesn't debilitate me like some sufferers, but I do get a little crazy around this time of year.

And diurnal rhythms--my body knows when it's 7:30. Not that I wouldn't be grateful for a few extra hours in the day, but think of how that would affect everything from what time you wake up in the morning, how long you work, to how "old" you are.

Astronomically based holidays on other planets would be a likely occurrence--a welcome one, since they do connect people to the planets on which they live. They make up a significant portion of the unique culture springing up on a planet and are one facet of a rich pattern of fascinating existence.

Schmaltzy decorations, however, should be optional.

Technorati Tags:
, , ,

Flickr Tags:
, , ,

Del.icio.us Tags:
, , ,

Furl Tags:
, , ,

2 comments:

Lynda K. Scott said...

Great post, Xandra!

I can see that other planets would still have equinoxes -- assuming they have any planetary tilt/wobble. And I can see how celebrations would often coincide with these astronomical/planetary alignments, particularly in a less technologically advanced civilization. After all, putting a holiday on or near a major astronomical event is one way to ensure that it occurs at the same approximate time each year :D

But it would be fun, for those planets that don't have a 'wobble', to find some other way to time a celebration...maybe a cometary arrival? A meteor shower? Maybe even a weather change that's dependent on the gravitational pull of a giant gas planet in close proximity. Lots of stuff to play with :D

Savanna Kougar said...

Great thoughts Xandra and Lynda, I've often struggled when writing about an OtherWorld because there would be different cycles, different celebrations -- it all has to fit that world and it's past -- not always easy to think through, for sure!