Friday, January 2, 2009

The Open Thread

Here is your open thread for the next 7 days.

That which is not a thread topic, goes here. Also, any topic you want to bring back from the dead or any suggestions for a new topic, goes here.

caveat: the usual rules apply.


Please feel free to start your own discussions, but just to seed this thread with a little trivia item, let's have some fun:

Japan has what are functionally *three* New Year's Festivals, and that doesn't even consider the fact that School and Business cycles are based on yet a fourth Year-cycle.

What are the notable three, and what do they really mark?

Bonus Fun: What does that fourth "new year" have in common with French colonization in North America?

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!


Marie said...

Happy New Year one and all, a bit delayed, but sincere. As for your tease question that will be later.

Kate said...

Suggestion for a new topic/question: in watching the latest developments between Israel and the Gaza Strip, I find it quite curious that in western media there has not been more mention of Egypt, excepting of course when we read that Arabs, specifically the Jordanians and the Syrians, are protesting against it, for not doing enough (in their estimation) for the Palestinian people. I was reading an article in one of the Italian dailies earlier today, and I don't know if it was the phrasing or what, but in a few respects the US attitude toward Mubarak reminds me a bit of its previous attitude toward Musharraf in Pakistan. Is there any reason for us to believe that there might be a similar end to the Egyptian leader?


Tease question: a good one, I can only think of two! The new year, as observed according to the Gregorian calendar, and the festival for small new year, celebrated sometime in mid- to late-Jan.

L.Douglas Garrett said...


And a Happy New Year to you as well, thank you.


If you'd like, I can do a longer article on the subject, but to briefly focus on the nature of the Mubarak government:

The comparison to P. Musharraf's time as junta leader and President of Pakistan doesn't really fit. He knew, and his supporters in the U.S. administration also knew, that he was a stop-gap leader who would one day need to turn over power by some mechanism (democratic elections preferred) to a successor. His job was to get N. Sharif out of power (for his own sake) and hold some degree of control over the Pakistani Army as things got rough.

H. Mubarak took power with every intent to centralize it under his authority, to hang on to it in the face of all opposition, and has shown every sign of considering a hereditary transition of power when he feels he must leave. His device for gaining support for that is his promise to maintain stability in Egypt and keep Islamist parties out of power.

Musharraf could at least let go when the popular movement(s) got strong enough. Mubarak will give up power when he is room temperature...

Oh, and you got the easy one on the trivia: The Gregorian (Western) calendar New Year's on 1.January is one; You might be on the right track with "small" new year, but to get that one you'll need to say what it really is.

Here's a little hint as to how to guess the third one: Like much of the written language, Japan has several cultural ideas that were imported from abroad more than once through history, and so the same thing might be done in two different ways now, with most people not knowing that is two representations of the same thing.


Susan said...

Happy New Year to you a few days later--

I was wondering where you have been as I haven't seen you on Adam's... Hope you are well--

Since Kate's post, there has been mention of Egypt--

I am just watching to see what happens with these alleged talks-- which to me, only settles this temporarily-- so ugly!

Karl Reisman said...

Western New Year, Chinese Calnder new Year, and the one in May that co-icides with Golden Week?


L.Douglas Garrett said...


Things are as well as they can be, thank you for asking.

@Karl Reisman

Getting closer! Yes on the Chinese (Lunar) Calendar New Year as calculated, so that makes two; You are probably pretty close to getting the Bonus with that last guess, but Golden Week itself falls about a month after that "fourth new year" comes. (this will add confusion, hehheh: After all, you need about a month to grow the rice shoots to have them ready for field planting come the first week of May.)

Kate said...

Is one of the new years in question Japan's fiscal new year? I think that's in April, no?

L.Douglas Garrett said...


"I think that's in April, no?"

That would be the "fourth new year" mentioned as part of the Bonus item. It is indeed on the First of April (modern calendar), and is used for fiscal year and school year these days. But the open question for the bonus is how is that tied to something else mentioned.

To hint again at the way to get 3"real" New Years (they all have parties!), see the end of my comment of 3.January at 11:15 p.m., above.

Karl Reisman said...

As an aside and something to ass to your reading list, apparently there is a Canadian Blogger now to be embedded with Canadian Forces operating in Afghanistan.


L.Douglas Garrett said...


Thank you, will give it a look.


The Trivia:

The Three New Years' celebrated in Japan are: Gregorian (Western) New Year's on 1.Jan; Lunar (Chinese) New Year's in Jan or Feb, as calculated; and "Setsubun", specifically Spring Setsubun (立春; Risshun), the Japanese Buddhist change of the seasons, originally based on the Lunar New Year but then set on the Japanese calendar and then reset on the Western Calendar to be 3.Feb.

The Bonus: The fiscal and school "new year" in Japan is 1.Apr, based on the planter's springtime. That same reasoning was behind old Continental Europe's 1.Apr new year, which was followed in French colonies in the Americas... belief in which was was held derisively in the new U.S.A. and spawned the "April Fool's Day" concept as a label for those who said Happy New Year on 1.Apr.


L.Douglas Garrett said...

CORRECTION, as comments can't be edited:

Setsubun (all 4) are determined by solar observation. while considered part of the traditional Asian calendars, it is not *strictly* part of the Chinese Lunar calendar.