Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Newtonmas to all!

As I get older, I find it harder and harder to get into the holiday spirit. I've never been religious, so Christmas has never really had much meaning for me besides an excuse to get lots of presents. As a kid, presents were awesome, and I was always happy to get new toys, but now I find my material needs are much simpler... I'm not too interested in getting piles of presents anymore. I would even say that the excessive materialism attached to the various holidays people celebrate at this time of year bothers me a lot. For this reason, I've been looking for an alternative holiday to celebrate... something that better suites my beliefs.

My mom likes to celebrate Brumalia, which is the Roman festival that Christmas replaced. It honours Bacchus, so I guess you have to drink a lot of wine. It also takes place at the end of the festival of Saturnalia, so we put a cardboard cut-out of Saturn at the top of the Brumalia shrubbery like so:

I, however, subscribe to a much more scientific belief system, so an ancient roman holiday isn't quite the thing for me, no matter how much wine I drink. Therefore, this year I've decided to celebrate Newtonmas. Isaac Newton, considered by many to be the father of modern Physics, was born on Christmas day in 1642. There was some confusing stuff going on with dates back then, and so according to our modern calendar, his birthday is on January 4th, but since the calendar back then said it was December 25th, I think I'll stick with that one for the sake of the holiday.

Newton is most famous for discovering the Law of Gravitation by showing that the same force which causes objects to fall towards the ground also governs the motion of the planets around the sun. However, he is also credited with inventing calculus (though Leibniz also gets credit for that), building the first reflecting telescope, discovering that light is made up of many different colours, and much more. He was also very religious and a practitioner of alchemy. He might also have been a bit of a jerk.

Anyway, to properly celebrate Newtonmas, I will be doing the following:
  • Eating an apple
  • Singing some Newtonmas carols
  • Shining light through a prism to watch it split into a rainbow
  • Doing some calculus problems
  • Dropping stuff on the ground

Happy Newtonmas, everyone!