—some links added, 23 Dec.—
Perhaps this New Year’s greeting seems a bit early, but it is not. Not for the sun, anyway. It is the start of Tekufah Tevet! Tonight is the night of darkness, after which the days start getting longer again. Otherwise known as the start of winter. That seems like a pretty good definition of a “new year” to me, because now the fruit trees have been dormant for a while and have received their first bit of chill, with (we hope) much more to come as we look towards the surging of the sap and eventually the blooms that will begin in less than two months.1 In fruit-growing terms, it certainly means now it it time to get those winter chores (e.g. dormant spraying, cover-cropping) done. Yes, a new year begins!
The sun just set moments ago through the notch in the ridge to our west that serves as Ladera Frutal’s solar observatory on what will be the longest night of the year. The solstice is 22 December, which this year coincides with 13 Tevet (the day on the Jewish calendar that just began, which by the way is Shabbat).2
The 13th would be pretty close to the full moon. Indeed, as soon as I turned around from the front entrance of LF HQ and looked the other way, there was the moon:
Not quite full–that will be Sunday night (here in California). So, it is not a perfect convergence–solstice, full moon, and Shabbat. But two of three is not bad.
Happy (Solar) New Year and Shabbat Shalom!
- In fact, we are barely more than a month from the date that marks the earliest signs of spring in the Mediterranean climate, such as Ladera Frutal–or the Land of Israel: Tu Bi-Sh’vat. It comes much closer to the winter solstice this year, which is one of the indications that we need a leap month in this year, or else the spring festival (Pesach) would be too early. For a good overview of the role of the tekufot in caclulating the date of Tu Bi-Shevat, leap years, and other solar-dependent features of the Jewish calendar, see “Calculating the Seasons and Tu B-Shvat” from Bar-Ilan University’s Parashat Hashavua Study Center. [↩]
- So for the moment I clearly am not classifying blogging as work! [↩]