We need a new calendar!

One of the strange things about the pandemic is not having plans for the future. My calendar used to be packed. Even as the world starts to recover, I still have mostly blank squares ahead of me.

Someone joked about how Groundhog Day in the pandemic wouldn’t work, as it would be days before Bill Murray’s character realised things were repeating. In Brighton, we’ve lost the normal markers of the year. The Fringe Festival and Pride were cancelled, along with various smaller events and parties. Some people have joked that we in an endless March, and there is an online calendar suggesting that the date is March 179th 2020 .

It got me thinking about something John Higgs wrote about the Celtic calendar in his book Watling Street.

The old Celtic calendar comes from a time when life did not change rapidly… it divides time up into chunks of about six weeks, each separated by a party, which is an agreeably human way to think about your life. It tells you that things more than six weeks away are things that you don’t need to worry about yet.

That sounds quite promising. The end of this pandemic is more than six weeks off, but maybe it’s best not to worry about exactly how far beyond the horizon it is. And a celebration every six weeks would certainly help to break up time until then. As John writes, “The Celtic calendar doesn’t come with quite the same level of stress and anxiety as the Gregorian one.”

There are lots of other possibilities that can be brought in. Some friends of mine bought a French Revolutionary Calendar, and celebrated Jour de la vertu with a running race. Rosy always makes sure to celebrate Patrick Swayze’s birthday on August 18th. (I missed it this year, but will be watching Roadhouse on Netflix this weekend). November brings Diwali, which will be difficult for some of my colleagues this year, but I will try to do something to mark it for my team. And, as an Erisian, I could also add in The Discordian Calendar.

But the Celtic Calendar looks like a good basic rhythm for pandemic time. The next celebration is the September Equinox on September 22nd (also the first day of the French Republican Calendar). This is known as Mabon and is a harvest festival. In a world without crowds we need new new festivals – possibly asynchronous ones that allow people to gather and meet in abstract ways. But we still need to celebrate.

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