The Dance of Time: The Origins of the Calendar: A Miscellany of History and Myth, Religion and Astronomy, Festivals and Feast Days

The Dance of Time: The Origins of the Calendar: A Miscellany of History and Myth, Religion and Astronomy, Festivals and Feast Days

Our changing concept of time, and the surprising, often mysterious origins of the calendar, comes to life in this richly informative, beautifully written book....

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Title:The Dance of Time: The Origins of the Calendar: A Miscellany of History and Myth, Religion and Astronomy, Festivals and Feast Days
Author:Michael Judge
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Edition Language:English

The Dance of Time: The Origins of the Calendar: A Miscellany of History and Myth, Religion and Astronomy, Festivals and Feast Days Reviews

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    This is a short little book what the stars meant to ancient Europeans, the Calendar, the origins of customs around our holidays. It was the first such book I came across and it sparked an interest in Archeoastronomy in me and how the holidays are related to the movement of the firmament. There are probably better books but I am keeping the five-star rating because my chance encounter with it started my mind in a new direction.

  • Sjervey

    An excellent review of the origins of various aspects of the calendar from the days to the months to the festivals. Many holidays are recycled from the holidays of earlier cultures. Judge views that somewhat cynically. The reality is that the rhythms of life have a universality but religions also need to reinterpret the celebrations to reflect their own understandings of the relationships between God and humans. This is more a matter of education than of opportunism. Nevertheless, this cynicism

    An excellent review of the origins of various aspects of the calendar from the days to the months to the festivals. Many holidays are recycled from the holidays of earlier cultures. Judge views that somewhat cynically. The reality is that the rhythms of life have a universality but religions also need to reinterpret the celebrations to reflect their own understandings of the relationships between God and humans. This is more a matter of education than of opportunism. Nevertheless, this cynicism is a minor element in an otherwise outstanding overview of a major movement of civilization, the human interface with the rhythm of the calendar year and its cycle of seasons. A very worthwhile read.

  • Jessica Adams

    So , this book was an effort to read more than historical romances. I decided when I go to the library I would choose at least one book from non- fiction. I’m so glad this was my first choice.

    A truly beautifully written book. Reminding me that learning can be joyful and poetic. With science, history, mythology, and religion intertwined, there was a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in this book. I think I will buy it. It’s a gorgeous, informative epic that speaks to the child and scholar in all of

    So , this book was an effort to read more than historical romances. I decided when I go to the library I would choose at least one book from non- fiction. I’m so glad this was my first choice.

    A truly beautifully written book. Reminding me that learning can be joyful and poetic. With science, history, mythology, and religion intertwined, there was a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in this book. I think I will buy it. It’s a gorgeous, informative epic that speaks to the child and scholar in all of us.

  • Deborah Stepp

    Prose that is almost poetry tells the story of our calendar today. Fun to read.

  • Lauren

    This book has a very interesting premise and subject, but enough flaws that I could only give it 3 stars. The history of the calendar and its associated mythology was certainly very interesting, and I did learn quite a bit. I am a little concerned about exactly what I did learn, though, as there were some obvious factual errors in the book. The entire thing is totally unreferenced and there is no bibliography, so I have no idea where the author got most of his information. Rather than TELLING us

    This book has a very interesting premise and subject, but enough flaws that I could only give it 3 stars. The history of the calendar and its associated mythology was certainly very interesting, and I did learn quite a bit. I am a little concerned about exactly what I did learn, though, as there were some obvious factual errors in the book. The entire thing is totally unreferenced and there is no bibliography, so I have no idea where the author got most of his information. Rather than TELLING us, for example, that the Romans witnessed certain ancient pagan festivals, it would have been much better to provide a source and a quote. There also wasn't a lot of discussion about scholarly disagreement over various aspects of the calendar's history, which might have added to the book.

    In general, I think my main complaint about this book is that too much text is devoted to telling us how we are supposed to FEEL about the calendar rather than just presenting a history of the calendar itself. It's an interesting subject! We have all lived through all the months and can determine whether we feel gloomy, cheerful, etc. on our own. The language is really overblown, e.g. (p105), "February is a womb, rich with the hidden promises of the frozen earth" or (p169), "During the last days of August, we relish her gifts while observing no command of the calendar save one: that summer is like a child waiting to grow up, and that the journey, so long anticipated, should perhaps next year be enjoyed more fully..." Or, more frustratingly and vaguely misogynistic (p192), "Women's hearts, after all, are as unknowable as the final configuration of the Seven Sisters. All that we can do is catch them from the corner of our eye, and hope they look back."

    The author has some literary tics that were somewhat distracting. Things like repeating himself in consecutive sentences, which I guess is for effect but didn't really do much for me. For example, when discussing the Sumerians being a more effective cultural than military force (p18): "As a power, they passed away; as a people, they infected their conquerors with the subtlety of thought... As a power, they passed away; but in all the subsequent empires founded on their fall, Sumerian astronomy became the thing to do...".

    There were also, as I said, some obvious factual errors. A couple of examples: 1) Saying that Columbus discovered the world was round (p80). "Then something happened on the round world; it was found to be so". Really? The Greeks had established that pretty conclusively 2000 years earlier and this was widely accepted in Columbus's time. 2) Not knowing the distance from the Earth to the Sun (p221). "Life's song, the song of the sun; energy translated into leave, bowel, heart, muscle, and throat from a furnace blazing 29 million miles away." Sorry, but try 93 million miles. Did this book have an editor?

    I think this book is in general a decent overview, especially if you want the mythology angle to the calendar. It is definitely not without issues but it is a very quick read and interesting enough that I would recommend it with reservations.

  • Richard

    This is a gentle survey of the origins of the modern Calendar. It explores the history and significance of the major feasts that punctuate the calendar each month. The result is a book filled with interesting facts illuminating many facets of Western culture. It can provide the reader an interesting browse but certainly it is not in any sense a scholarly study and those looking for such will be disappointed.

    Perhaps the writer's style is a bit too flowery in places and I found some sequences of

    This is a gentle survey of the origins of the modern Calendar. It explores the history and significance of the major feasts that punctuate the calendar each month. The result is a book filled with interesting facts illuminating many facets of Western culture. It can provide the reader an interesting browse but certainly it is not in any sense a scholarly study and those looking for such will be disappointed.

    Perhaps the writer's style is a bit too flowery in places and I found some sequences of historical summary a bit boring. National, social, and cultural stereotypes abound and these can become rather tiresome.

    He makes one significant error which should be corrected in later editions. Judge quotes a verse from the "Rubaiyat" which he states is translated by "Robert" Fitzgerald. However, the quatrain quoted is from the famous translation by Edward Fitzgerald.

  • B. Rule

    The author of this book never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. I learned next to nothing about the purported origins of the calendar, and had good reason to doubt most of what the author relayed as true. But Judge isn't concerned with history or factual matters; his sympathies are with the mythic, ancient ways of experiencing time as cycles and epicycles, the almost mystic coming into being and passing away of the generations. And how hard he works to impart that poignant feeling!

    The author of this book never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. I learned next to nothing about the purported origins of the calendar, and had good reason to doubt most of what the author relayed as true. But Judge isn't concerned with history or factual matters; his sympathies are with the mythic, ancient ways of experiencing time as cycles and epicycles, the almost mystic coming into being and passing away of the generations. And how hard he works to impart that poignant feeling!

    This book is a cascading rush of fulsome, purple prosody, intended to capture the heart of the reader and to lull his mind into drowsing at its post. It's old fashioned, and it's kind of nice. I think the title of this book is at best a bait and switch and its contents must be almost wholly rejected and cast out by the light of reason. Nonetheless, I still hold some small affection for its efforts, perhaps less skilled than the author would hope, to elicit a feeling of communion with nature and with time. Don't read this if you have the soul of a logician. If you want to sigh while thinking of Celts dancing and spilling blood in the moonlight (the devil take the details of whether they ever actually did), this is the book for you.

  • Annie Miracle

    A fun read. I wouldn’t recommend it, though, as it contains several factual errors and is not well researched. Also be aware that it focuses almost entirely on Europe and the United States.

  • Karen

    Judge is prone to long rhapsodies. There are some interesting factoids in the book, but the prose led me to skim. I suspect the first half of the book could have conveyed the same information in a fraction of the pages.

    Even though it's explicitly a book about the Western calendar and IndoEuropean influences on that calendar, the Western focus goes a little too far sometimes. Judge mentions that the 7 day week comes from "the Orient", but doesn't elaborate any further. Also, Judge sometimes ment

    Judge is prone to long rhapsodies. There are some interesting factoids in the book, but the prose led me to skim. I suspect the first half of the book could have conveyed the same information in a fraction of the pages.

    Even though it's explicitly a book about the Western calendar and IndoEuropean influences on that calendar, the Western focus goes a little too far sometimes. Judge mentions that the 7 day week comes from "the Orient", but doesn't elaborate any further. Also, Judge sometimes mentions stuff like the Jesus story is known the world over, or that all children celebrate Christmas. Or that Westerners don't have a harvest festival anymore except Thanksgiving. (Because the non-Christian-Americans don't count, even though many have harvest festivals.)

    And there was at least one irksome mistake. He mentions that there are 304 days in the calendar + 60 "unmonthed" days. He says some months got a day added (instead of subtracted) and two months were added, but somehow the result was a 355 day calendar. That would imply that the two months were 51 days or less in total. I finally had to check wikipedia.

  • Alison

    At first I found this book interesting in spite of its haphazard writing style; I understand that it is a miscellany, so I was reading it as such, as a sort of light-hearted, intriguing mish-mash of information that I could use as a jumping-off point if there was anything I wanted to know more about. But the author offers almost no sources at all for his research - not any kind of notes or bibliography at all beyond a list of credits for the few images used. Not only does that mean the book isn'

    At first I found this book interesting in spite of its haphazard writing style; I understand that it is a miscellany, so I was reading it as such, as a sort of light-hearted, intriguing mish-mash of information that I could use as a jumping-off point if there was anything I wanted to know more about. But the author offers almost no sources at all for his research - not any kind of notes or bibliography at all beyond a list of credits for the few images used. Not only does that mean the book isn't helpful as a starting place for any in-depth research, but I am wary of books, especially historical books, that offer no support for their claims. Eventually, I just stopped reading.

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