Clocks are round. So why aren't calendars?
Ever since I can remember, my internal picture of the year has been a circle - with summer opposite winter, spring opposite autumn. This makes perfect sense if you consider that, after all, a circle is the shape of the Earth's orbit around the sun.
The view of time as a cycle has been around for millennia - examples include the Celtic wheel of the year, the Mayan calendar, the Taoist yin-yang symbol and the Dharma wheel in Buddhism. But modern cosmology views time as an arrow, not a cycle: a endless onward progression with no turning back. Our calendars reflect this view, presenting time as an infinite sequence of rectangular boxes, reminiscent of the boxes (like houses, rooms, and cars) in which many of us spend our lives.
But for anyone who values our connection with the natural cycles of earth, sun and moon, it makes far more sense to depict the year as a circle. If you think about it, it's rather surprising that so few calendars represent the year in its natural shape.
Since I couldn't find any round calendar designs that I liked, eventually I decided to go ahead and make my own. This design has been evolving for about three years, and I'm fairly happy with it, but it isn't meant to be definitive. I'm offering it on the web for free in the hope that others will pick up the idea and run with it.
The calendar is really meant for sticking on the wall, not viewing on a computer screen. It should be printed in colour and at least A3 size (A2 is highly recommended). And while you're at it, why not print a dozen - they make great Christmas presents!
About the calendar
As well as a practical wall calendar and year planner for 2015, it's also meant to be a mandala - an object of beauty incorporating both radial and fourfold symmetry, used for meditation. And what better than a round calendar to help you meditate on the transitory and cyclical nature of all things?
In case anyone gets the wrong end of the stick, I should perhaps explain that I'm only proposing a new way of visualising our western (Gregorian) calendar, not a new system of organising the days, weeks and months. It says something about power and the inertia of human culture that we're still using basically the same calendrical system introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and modified by Pope Gregory in 1582 - even though reforms have been proposed by everyone from French revolutionaries to the Kodak company.
(If I could propose one reform to our way of organising time, I would get rid of "daylight savings time", which seems to me a total waste of time and a blatant example of hubris. As if by making everyone change their clocks the politicians can somehow control time itself!)
The calendar includes all the usual days, weeks, months, public holidays and phases of the moon. You may notice that the moon symbols spiral around the calendar, gradually working their way from the outside into the middle. That's because the average length of a lunar week is 7.4 days, just a bit longer than a calendar week.
The calendar also shows the eight cardinal points of the solar year - the solstices, equinoxes and quarter days (the midpoints of the four seasons, often known by their Celtic names: Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain) - which are the basis of many of our holidays, such as Christmas (the winter solstice), Easter (the first full moon after the spring equinox), May Day (Beltane) and Hallowe'en (Samhain).
Get the calendar
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Robert Alcock is an ecological designer based in northern Spain, where he lives with his partner and two daughters in a small village overlooking a tidal estuary. When not designing calendars he's working on a book about the experience of building a cob house.
Robert Alcock recently wrote an article about building in northern Spain. See his article in PM80
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