Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On Preppers and Doomsday, Christmas and New Year, and a Year in Review

Today is New Year's Day.  People are in a celebration mood. 

About a week ago, December 25th, was Christmas Day. People were also in a celebration mood, especially among the Christians.

About ten days ago, December 21st, was Doomsday.  People were not in a celebration mood.  Rather, they were in an anxious mood, especially among the so-called “preppers.”

Slightly more than two weeks ago was 12-12-12, that is, 12 December 2012.  This number went viral in the media, but I don’t know what mood people have.  For me personally, it has some meaning, because it was the first anniversary of my blog, having posted my first article on 12 December 2011.

1st January is accepted worldwide as the New Year.  But it is not the only new year.  The Chinese, the Jews, the Hindus, the Iranians, the Japanese, etc., also have their own new year.  The Muslims too have their own.  But only 1st January is celebrated worldwide. 

The New Year that falls on 1st January is based on the so-called Christian Calendar.  It marks the year of Christianity.  This year is 2013 CE, also known as 2013 AD.  CE stands for “Christian Era” (sometimes called Common Era), while AD stands for Anno Domini, Latin for the “year of the Lord” (Lord refers to Jesus Christ).  Thus Jesus Christ was supposed to be born two thousands and thirteen years ago.

Apparently it was only an approximation, for historians believe that Jesus was born a few years before 1 CE.  Most put it at 4 BCE, that is, he was born four years before the year was attributed to him. 

The current Christian Calendar is technically known as the Gregorian Calendar.  It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII (hence the appellation Gregorian Calendar) by a papal bull signed on 24 February 1582.  In case you are curious, papal bull here means papal decree, not a male cow of the pope.

It was based on Julian Calendar of the Romans.  The name Julian comes from Julius Caesar, the great conqueror who wanted the position of Dictator for life.  Dictator was the highest post in the Roman Republic, before this empire was turned into a dynasty.  It was the position held only for two years, then replaced by someone else.  But Julius wanted it for life, which led to his assassination. 

Since it is based on the Roman Calendar, the months in this calendar are based on Roman gods, or their great leaders.  Thus the month of July is attributed to Julius Caesar himself, while the month of August is attributed to his grandnephew, Octavius Caesar, whose title was Augustus.  January is attributed to their god Janus, the God of Doorway.  As the door is the point of entry, thus the god Janus is used to mark the first month of this calendar.

It makes one wonder why it should be called a Christian Calendar, for Jesus Christ was actually a Jew who fought against the Romans.  It is one of the strange things in life, pretty much like the strange habit of waiting for the New Year to come in order to make a resolution, as many people do.  In any case, it bears testimony to the greatness of the Romans, for while their empire is no more, their Calendar survives.

Stranger still is Christmas, which is celebrated on 25th December.  It is supposed to be the birthday—nativity, as they call it—of Jesus Christ.  But Jesus was said to be born in spring, while December is winter.  It turns out that 25th December was the day the Europeans, before they embraced Christianity, celebrated their Winter Solstice Festival. 

Most people living along the Equator Line would have no idea what Winter Solstice is, because they only have dry and rainy seasons, and both seasons are hot.  The day and night for them are also practically equal.  But in the Temperate Region, the day and night are not the same.  In the summer, the day is long and the night is short.  In the winter, the day is short and the night is long.  Winter Solstice marks the day where the night starts to get shorter and the day starts to get longer.

For some reason, this festival is used to mark the birthday of Jesus Christ, not the day he was born.  Perhaps because of that reason some Christians celebrate their “Christmas” on other days, such as on 7th January.

Even stranger still is the alleged Doomsday, which was supposed to take place on 21st December 2012.  They say it is based on the Mayan Calendar, the vanished Civilization of Central America.  This alleged Doomsday had caused some excitement among the people, but many surmise that it does not signify the end of the World, but only the end of an Era. 

The World turns out to be intact after that Doomsday, but whether an Era has ended, it opens to all sorts of speculations.

Perhaps the strangest thing is the reaction of some people to the Doomsday.  Doomsday is supposed to be the End of the World.  It is the day whereby the World will be no more.  As the World is gone, so would everything else, including mankind.  There is no point, therefore, to prepare for the life after life is no more.

Not so, however, with the group known as preppers.  These are the people who prepare to survive after the World is ending.  They stockpile food and other basic necessities that would last for 20, 30 or more years.  Apparently, they have different notion of Doomsday as Muslims, Christians, and other faiths do. 

As for 12 December, there is nothing special about it.  It is only special because the year that has just left us happened to be 2012.  Since December is the 12th month of the year, then this day can be written 12-12-12. 

But that day was quite special to me personally because it marked the first anniversary of my blog.  Blogging is like a journey of life.  You have some idea about what to do or what to be in the future, but as you progress, you change your path here and there as the occasions arise.

When I started blogging, I fancied it to be fun and easy for people to read.  Well, I can say that it has been fun writing it, but some of my friends say that it is not quite an easy reading.   So I lost many of my earlier readers, although there are always the new comers.  I guess life is like that.

I wanted to say Happy New Year to all, but I am not going to because we should be happy every day, or at least most of the days.  We should not wait for the New Year to come to be happy, neither should we wait for the New Year in order to make the resolutions.

Nevertheless, I resolve to continue writing this blog.  It has been a good way of spending my time.  And I hope you are not wasting your time reading it.


  1. Belated "happy blogging anniversary"! Its definitely not a waste of time reading your articles. And I like your explanation of the 'papal bull' c;

    1. Many thanks my friend. I have been encouraged by your comments, as well as others.

  2. Ho.. Ho.. Ho... (Still in festive spirit seem)

    Just like to wish you happy anniversary and congratulation for being able to keep the blog going and thank you for keeping us informed and entertained with your writing.

    p/s - i consider myself as one of your earlier readers and still here, hmmm.... i wonder why?
    (The secret could lies with your synopsis email)?

    1. Many thanks my friend. The process has been rewarding.

  3. Happy Belated Blogoversary SM!
    I ve learned so much over the year - like I said before - your writing is God's gift. Subhanallah. Keep up the good work!


    1. I have learned a lot too.

      I have been reading voraciously, but reading is largely passive activity. Writing is active. The past year has clarified my thinking.

  4. Datuk,

    Happy belated anniversary. it may be 6 months late but hey it's the thought that counts right? Keep enlightening us the mortals...

    1. Thanks my friend. InshaAllah will continue writing.