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WouldJew Believe #18: New Years

WouldJew Believe #18: New Years

Interesting facts about calendars: “Theirs” and “Ours.”



Simple, it’s not. In fact, with its complicated mathematical computations, understanding the Jewish calendar could’ve been on the very first SAT for MOTs. What with Earth rotations, sun and moon revolutions, three and a third second chalakim, if Einstein had to “do the math,” he’d have wound up at ZCC (Zurich Community College) and created the theory of cheese holes. But hey, since when do we do anything “easy?”

Here are seven important facts about the Jewish calendar:

Many people think that the Jewish calendar ( Lu'ach Iv'ri in Hebrew) is primarily lunar, but it’s not that simple. It’s not solar-based, as is the Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in the western world; and it’s not completely lunar like the Muslim calendar. It’s kind of like a lunar/solar hybrid. Here are seven more important facts. The Jewish calendar:

1. was established as fixed around 400 C.E. by Hillel II, based upon three astronomical phenomena: the rotation of Earth on its axis (a day); the revolution of the moon around Earth (a month); the revolution of Earth around the sun (a year).

2. is standardized over a 19 year period, re-aligning lunar with the solar years. An extra month of Adar is added in years three, six, eight, 11, 14, 17 and 19; this is known as the Jewish leap year.

3. is believed divine based on the time of Creation. (In the Gregorian calendar, this date fell on Sunday, September 6, 3761 B.C.E.) The year number is calculated by adding up the ages of personages in the Bible.

4. starts the day at sunset/sundown. Hours divide into 1,080 three and a third seconds called chalakim (parts).

5. uses Mean time set by the meridian of Jerusalem instead of Greenwich (England).

6. affixed months during the time of Ezra, after the exiles returned to Israel from Babylonia. The names then, are Babylonian. 

And ......... wouldjew believe .......

7. as there are about 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days yearly, and a 13-month lunar calendar gains about 19 days yearly.


JEWISH:        More prayer than merriment
GOYISH:       More merriment through hurling

JEWISH:      Day of Judgment
GOYISH:     Day of football

JEWISH:     Festive meals, including pomegranates, round challah and apples dipped in honey for a sweet year to come
GOYISH:    Festive meals, including subs, pizza, and in the South, Hoppin' John—black eyed peas and ham hocks for a sweet halftime

JEWISH:     Focus on repentance
GOYISH:    Focus on things that require repentance ... boozing, partying, kissing strangers

JEWISH:     God is King
GOYISH:    Dick Clark is King (anointed after Guy Lombardo– and his Canadians).

JEWISH:     Rest to contemplate how to better serve God and improve our behavior
GOYISH:    Rest to contemplate how to: a) better absorb three bottles of champagne within five hours; b) get over a monster hangover in time to catch the Rose Bowl

JEWISH:    Saying “Shana Tova Umetokah” wishing others a good and sweet year.
GOYISH:    Singing the most popular song in the world (next to "Blue Suede Shoes") to which maybe 10 people know the words. At the stroke of midnight, Goyim break into ......... "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot and ... rum tee tum dah dee.. Then, “la la la dah dee  ALL TOGETHER NOW ...  Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot For Auld Lang Syyyyyyyyyne" !!!!!

JEWISH:     Blowing the shofar
GOYISH:    Blowing foil multi confetti horns

JEWISH:     Find water while praying to "cast off" sins. (Tashlikh)
GOYISH:    Avoid running water while partying to prevent falling in.

JEWISH:    Top three “Resolutions”
        1: Live a good Jewish life
        2: Be more proactive in making the world better and more humane
        3: Increase tzedakah
GOYISH:    Top three resolutions
        1. Lose holiday bloat
        2. Upgrade my computer and IPods
        3. Don’t eat yellow snow


JEWISH:    A time to look at past mistakes, and plan changes in the New Year
GOYISH:    A time to make resolutions – and try to keep them, at least until the Superbowl

January 2, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 13

(13) MARNIE (THE AUTHOR), January 7, 2010 9:22 PM

I hear you.

First of all, thanks for the comments. All of them. Defend, I don't do. If I wrote it, I must stand by it. But explain? Always. To "anonymous (Jan 7): Of course I see your point. Any comparative material on a humor site can be read as a "superiority vs. inferiority." I will tell you that I was careful not to make a serious tsimmis of the differences. I can also say, that humor using comparisons is general. Many non-Jews (including good personal friends) reflect on the past/future, or simply ignore the New Years hoopla. Ah, the "but" is on its way. The primary point here was the difference in the way Jews embrace the start of the Jewish calendar year vs. customs and traditions surrounding Dec. 31st and Jan 1. We Jews have specific customs and a religious point of view. The public "marketing" of the Gregorian New Years, with the single exception of "resolutions" (not terribly seriously drawn), is "let loose party time," and football -- certainly for the young. New Years "chazzerai" is big business. And they're not selling nostalgia. They're showcasing B&N -- booze and noise. The public "image," shown on all major networks, - is not one of respectful reflection. What we see are strangers "connecting" through swigging and squirting booze in Times Square, one-upping lunacy. Like its Babylonian origins (but actually, less so), the "holiday" unlike many others, is all "holler" and no "holi." So, I felt it was fair game. Hope this explains the reasons for the "versus." As Jewlarious is open to all, my sense is non-Jewish readers will agree on the differing images -- and, in fact, many of my colleagues and friends loathe the New Year's shtick as well. Again, thanks for writing. I read, listen to, and appreciate all posts and comments! Shalom, Marnie

(12) Anonymous, January 7, 2010 1:27 AM

Not diggin' the so called attempt at humour at the end

First of all, its judging/generalizing to say that all gentile people partake in this sort of thing. There are plenty of people for whom, a) new years doesn't matter, its treated as simply another night or b) they spend a quiet new years with a loved one reflecting on the year. (indeed, I was just on an overnight flight over new years eve, and many people ushered in the new year cuddling with their children! ) In addition, there are many religious christians who would not endorse the kind of behaviour you so describe. Second, even if its true, its not a way to talk about others. Its L'shon Hara, plain and simple. If we talk with our gentile friends as normal human beings, and then say this kind of stuff behind their back, its deception. I have a bunch of friends who I would never show this to, because I know they would (and I would if in their position) see it as the jews having a superiority complex. We don't need to put others down in order to bring ourselves up.

(11) Yoni, January 6, 2010 3:01 PM

being a "light unto the nations"....

Deborah, "Goyim" of course in the lashon hakodesh means "nations". One of the main assignments of the Jewish people is to be a "light unto the nations". How do you expect to fulfill such a high calling if you are using a derogatory form of that word to refer the the gentile people??? And don't say it is not considered derogatory. You and I both know it is. To be a "light" unto the nations will not happen if you don't care enough about the people of the nations to respect them. We must be about the task assigned. We mustn't assimilate, yet we cannot avoid the responsibility of the task assigned. And that task requires some degree of relationship that includes a basic common respect owed all made in the image of Hashem. How can we expect more of them when we are not what we are supposed to be?

(10) Deborah, January 6, 2010 12:02 PM

nr 8, i disagree with you

the term goy is a word in lashon hakodesh = the holy tongue and goyish is probably Yiddish. We are Jewish, so why worry that calling a non-jewish holiday or practice goyish? What makes you so concerned using the word goyish? The term goy is mentioned several times in Tehilim (Book of Psalms) just to mention 1 example. Why should we suddenly edit it out? There is no reason to do so! Be proud of being blessed and priviledged to belong to the Jewish people and stop worrying what others will think or say!

(9) R. Gavreil S'Chevalier, January 6, 2010 12:33 AM

G-d's v Goyish's Calendar

In reply to Adi.... Either be a Jew or be a Gentile. You cannot be both. This is not to say you cannot be civil, but you must to make the choice. Shalom

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