Thursday, September 5, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. Happy 5774.

That's 5,774 continuous years of the Hebrew calender, one whose years run of a similar but not exact length to the Gregorian calendar. Because of that, and the fact that not all Hebrew months and years are the same length, the Jewish holidays fall in similar but not exact spots each year.

TigerBlog recently read something interesting about that subject.

All Jewish holidays begin at sundown, so for instance Rosh Hashanah this year actually started last night, not today.

Hanukkah this year starts on sundown Wednesday, Nov. 27, which is the absolute earliest it can start. The next day, Nov. 28, is Thanksgiving, which means the first day of Hanukkah will be on Thanksgiving Day. This is also the latest that Thanksgiving Day can fall, since it is the fourth Thursday in November.

The last time Hanukkah was on Nov. 28 and Nov. 28 was the fourth Thursday of the month was 1861, before Thanksgiving was an actual holiday. And because of the way the Hebrew calendar is just out of sync enough with the solar year, Hanukkah won't be able to fall on Nov. 28 again until the Hebrew calendar cycles through the Gregorian calendar, which would be in the year 79,811.

TB won't be around then.

Meanwhile, Rosh Hashanah falls insanely early this year as well. It's almost never this early in September.

In fact, Jewish holidays are never on time. As TB wrote a year ago:
In Jewish culture, the High Holy Days never come on time. They're either early or late, as in "the holidays came really early this year," which is said at every family celebration as a way of suggesting that the hostess was caught completely off guard, what with the end of the summer and all, and therefore couldn't create a proper meal for the occasion. This is usually followed by a general agreement that "we should only be together on wonderful occasions."

Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Jewish High Holy Days, an eight-day period of celebration and introspection that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when TigerBlog's people fast for 24 hours to atone for their sins.

The customary greeting for today, though, is simply "Happy New Year," as that's what Rosh Hashanah is, the start of the Jewish new year.

So happy 5774, one and all.

TB has always thought that this is a good time for the new year, as opposed to Jan. 1. New school year. End of summer. Change of seasons. All of that suggests a turning of the page.

And so it is at Princeton Athletics, as the wildly successful 2012-13 academic year is officially in the rearview mirror and the curtain is rising on 2013-14.

The first games of the new academic year are a little more than 24 hours away.

Princeton hosts two games tomorrow, as the field hockey team begins defense of its NCAA championship when it takes on Duke at 6 on Bedford Field and the women's soccer team follows up on the second-best season in program history when it hosts Richmond, also at 6.

Combine those two from a year ago, and you have a 35-5-1 overall record, a 14-0-0 Ivy record, a 6-1 NCAA tournament record (all games played away from home) and one NCAA championship. That's not too bad.

The field hockey team is also home Saturday, this time at 4, against Fairfield. The women's soccer team hosts Army Sunday at noon.

There's no admission charge for either sport, by the way.

The men's soccer team is at FDU tomorrow at 7. Jim Barlow's team has its home opener as week from Sunday at 2 against Seton Hall, after playing at Rutgers next Friday.

The women's volleyball team also plays tomorrow, when it begins its season at the George Mason tournament.

All of these opponents, by the way, have already played multiple games this season. Princeton teams start a weekend or two later, and it takes a few games to achieve full fitness levels.

Still, it's the first games of a new year.

What will 2013-14 have in store?

The first games are always exciting, the start of a run into early June at the NCAA track and field championships.

Happy New Year to all.

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