Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year; Old Ways

Last night - Saturday 11 January - was New Year's Eve in the Gaelic tradition. Oidhche Challuinn [The Night of the Calendar] was celebrated, for example, in Berneray, North Uist. where the Julian Calendar date remains recognised by some residents. However, that custom takes place on Foula, in the Shetland group, tonight. The reason for this discrepancy is because Foula residents failed to observe a leap year in 1900 and are consequently one day out. So a distinction between Gaelic and Norse ways in a detail of Julian time-keeping was established. The irony is that Julius Caesar had no idea about these lands and islands to the north of his conquered territories where his methods of counting days, months and years were introduced.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appears regularly every two months


Anonymous said...

1900 wasn't a leap year: the turn of the century years need to be divisible by 400, not 4, to be leap years. So 2000 was, 1900 wasn't.

Scottish Islands Explorer said...

I realise that this happens, but the implication is that the few other communities using the Julian Calendar did something different from Foula in 1900 - by, perhaps, assuming that a leap year had to be observed. Hence the distinction which persists. Any other theories?