It's about time…

Pope Gregory XIII

Pope Gregory XIII

A friend of mine sent me a short email yesterday about the origin of April Fools’ Day.  Apparently Pope Gregory XIII signed a papal bull on February 4, 1582 declaring a shift from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar.  

 The Gregorian Calendar, which is the calendar we use today, corrected an error in the previous Julian Calendar.  The error accumulated over time and made the Julian Calendar gradually more inaccurate to the point that it no longer correctly determined the date of Easter, as it was out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices. 

Pope Gregory declared that the Thursday, October 4, 1582 would be Friday, October 15, 1582 so that Easter would once again fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox.  The Catholic countries in Europe immediately adopted the changes, but the Protestant-dominated countries refused to change for almost 200 years given that the reform was authored by a Catholic Pope.  An interesting local note, the Spanish colonies adopted the change in 1584 while the British colonies waited until September 2, 1752 to reform the calendar.  Alaska the last state to adopt the change, waited until October 5, 1867! 

Back to the email I received, the theory is that April Fools’ Day began when those who chose not to reform their calendars continued to ring in the New Year on April 1st, as had been practiced for centuries, rather than shifting it to the new date of the New Year, January 1st.  Only “fools” would continue to be so old-fashioned!  And now they have their day. 

This tidbit of history makes me think of how transitory human understanding is, especially when viewed in the context of centuries or even millenia, instead of generations.  Every generation gets so caught up in the fixed nature of the social customs and mores, the dominant worldview and even larger, the cosmology of its era that the sense of connection to the past and to a different frame of reference is often the last thing on anyone’s mind.  For whatever reason, the human race tends to be myopic in both vision and consciousness. 

I was speaking to a horse trainer friend of mine today and he made an interesting observation about the evolution of horsemanship in the United States.  Much of the equestrian tradition in our country traces its roots to the Old West, a do or die environment where only the strong and often severe survived.  The European tradition, however, went through a period of meticulous refinement during the Renaissance and through the work of the various European military cavalry schools, much of it prior to the birth of the United States. 

Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere

Many of the problems any horse rider experiences due to the difference between how a horse naturally moves and how we as riders like him to move were resolved hundreds of years ago, using systems that were comparably kinder, gentler and more durable than the approaches taken in the “Wild” West.  In our current era, there has been a resurgence of interest in the “classical” methods established by the early European masters of horsemanship in the United States and a movement toward establishing new standards that would benefit the more modernly developed systems presently in use. 

I hope that the interest continues, as more often than not I find that in virtually every sphere of human activity there are successes established in the past that were forgotten about and yet are worth including in our current approach.  It isn’t a question of who is better, rather, it is a question of how best can we achieve the desired result, on a sustainable basis.  

Every sustainable construction begins with a well-planned and executed foundation.  Whether you are building a house, a business or training a horse, the wise course is to begin with a firm foundation.  One of the signature qualities of our modern era is a refinement of the art of the short-cut.  Short-cuts in the establishment of a foundation are always ill advised.       

As you can tell, my thoughts on this subject are rather raw and uncoordinated, but I look forward to developing a deeper understanding of the importance of a broad vision and a consciousness as unbound by artificial constraints as possible.  

Have a great day!

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7 Responses to It's about time…

  1. DeeDee says:

    Thanks for all the interesting bits of information this morning – you have a great day too!

  2. Scarlett says:

    Interesting thoughts. I’m an avid reader (especially about history) and am often amazed at not only how things have developed over the centuries, but also the wisdom and intelligence of people in our past. Many things are disregarded or have been forgotten and it’s certainly important to have an open mind and take another look.

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  4. Reina says:

    Love the post and all the amazing information to consider.I have always loved Emersons view on history. He says the moment someone connects consciously with the thoughts or views of someone in the past, it then makes history relevant and transforms past to present. Thanks for your thoughts.This will lead to a thoughtful weekend!

  5. Foxglove says:

    Great post here – makes me think about why, as people, we like traditions, and I suppose that we enjoy to have some connection to our past, to help reinforce our sense of identity of where we come from. Could be family traditions specific to smaller groupings and much more personalized, all the way to worldwide traditions which tend to be more vague. Of course, sometimes these are coordinated such as in the case of say Hannukah or Christmas, where both global and family traditions combine – but they do all serve to give us meaning as to our identity, as who we are certainly is influenced by where we have come from and thus traditions help us to carry what we deem valuable into the future. There’s a strong biological drive to do this for all of us.

    I can observe here though that oftentimes traditions are cherry-picked so that they conform to whatever the status quo is at the time, especially in the realm of scientific thought. Status quo helps to preserve current authority which may or may not have everyone’s best interest in mind. If we are concerned first and foremost with how best we can advance understanding to improve conditions for all of us, then we’ve got a foundation for traditions worthy of carrying into the future – traditions, as any other human endeavor, require energy to uphold and there’s only so much of it to go around.

    Anyhow, perhaps some of my own unpolished views on the topic, but great stuff your post gives for further thought!

  6. Mitch says:

    “The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.” Smart to look back through the pages of history to understand why we may do things the way they are done today, and even find lost inspiration. Otherwise we could be working off of a limited foundation like the ‘wild west’ methods, and the more refined and humane arts of horsemanship would be lost to us. Great examples for starting a deeper consideration. Thanks for your perspective.

  7. Lady Leo says:

    I never understood the thought that we must learn from our own mistakes. Where is the progress in that?

    Learning from history, what has worked and what didn’t always seemed the intelligent course or at least a good place to start. I have read that the great strategists and leaders were usually scholars who studied the successes and failures of others.

    It is a good question to ask myself when I’m embarking on a new project is there a foundation already started that I can add too or are there problems I can steer clear of? Pure creativity would seem to spiral from whatever foundation is already present, if there is one.

    Just thinking about this makes me value an open mind and an unprejudiced heart, those do open the way to explore other people, cultures and eras. If not it can become like the definition for insanity;doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

    Valuable questions, thanks.

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