Or: كل سنة و انتم طيبينWaiting for the New Moon

The moon means a day off

Or: كل سنة و انتم طيبين

Hello people from the future!

This time the timetraveler is writing from the year of 1437. In the night between Tuesday and Wednesday the new moon appeared which meant that we had officially welcomed the New Year. And it’s not just any new year, it’s the Hijri New Year.

Brief background: The first year of the islamic calendar is 622 or the year when prophet Mohammad emigrated from Mekka to Medina. While still living in Mekka, prophet Mohammad tried spreading the truth given to him by Allah amongst the citizens of his hometown. As this wasn’t very well received in a polytheistic society the prophet had to leave the city and start a new community in the city of Medina. The year of the migration was taken as the starting year of the islamic calendar whereas Mekka and Medina became the two holly cities.

After the sunset the moon should appear

Some might already know, here in Egypt, there are several ways of calculating the time (only reffering to the calendar this time, I won’t even try going into the discussion about the numbers). For the majority of things the calendar in use is the Gregorian one. Yet, in order to make life more interesting, this is not the only relevant refferance. There is also the Islamic calendar which is a lunar one and determines the beginnings of months, years, significant festivals, fasting, or events based on the phases of the moon. This is also the calendar which determines when the Hijri New Year starts. But how?

Even though most of the predicted dates are based on detailed astronomic calculations, a traditional way of knowing when the next year is going to start is by looking at the sky and waiting for the new moon to appear. As funny as this might sound, until a certain point on Tuesday evening it was still not definite if Wednesday would be a working day or not. Even for a person coming from the Balkans, a place where you never know what tomorrow might bring, this was something a bit too unpredictable.

Luckily there were no clouds nor rain on Tuesday night and Wednesday was officially a non-working day. If the situation was different we would probably have to postpone the New Year for a couple of days.

Now we wait for the one in that starts in January!

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