I picked up from Andrew Bolt how our Multicultural Commission sends out Christmas cards that deliberately don’t mention Christmas. But even so, I do notice that they are wishing others “a wonderful new year”. I can only presume they are referring to the New Year that begins the week after Christmas, on the first day of January, and not any of the calendar years that have existed and continue to exist.
Once upon a time, we would say that the year is AD 2017 [AD being Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord]. We would compare that with, say, the year of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. [B.C. being “Before Christ”]. But however you like to designate the year, the count starts with the birth of Jesus Christ even if apparently it’s out by a year or two. There are other calendars around, and there are different years we are up to in all of those calendars. But this one is ours, and it has more or less become the calendar across the world and accepted by all cultures, in no small part because it is the only solar calendar around – which, as it happens, Julius Caesar picked up from Cleopatra while sailing down the Nile in around 47 BC. That is why it was the Julian calendar, which was replaced in the sixteenth century by the Gregorian Calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII.