Notes on the Gaean Calendar

As I grew increasingly interested in chronicling the lives of these characters (Scars On the Heart is only the first of a series in progress), I realised I was going to need to know when, for example, they celebrated their birthdays, and what time of year various events occurred. I cannot find, anywhere, a clear explanation of the colour-based calendar of Gaea, even at the normally excellent Compendium site, although it does give the birthdays of most of the main characters in the series. So I have taken what official information I can glean from the Compendium and made the rest up. just in order to have a system I can work with.

I have made the following assumptions:

1. The Compendium tells us that Gaea is almost identical to Earth in size and structure, more or less sharing Earth's orbit of the Sun. Therefore I think it's fair to assume that they have a 365-day year, with a leap year every four years.

2. Since the Compendium birthdates give equivalents in Gregorian calendar months, I will also assume that the Gaean calendar year consists of twelve months of thirty, thirty-one or twenty-eight (twenty-nine in a leap year) days each. The months are as follows; ones marked with an asterisk (*) are ones I made up, the rest are part of the official information.

*Black - January
Purple - February
*Pink - March
Green - April
Yellow - May
Orange - June
*Indigo - July
Red - August
*Grey - September
*Brown - October
Blue - November
*White - December

Pedants and Van Fanel fans may be exclaiming 'But Van's birthday is White, 12th Moon and the Compendium says that's the equivalent of April 12!' To which I say 'yes, but if there were any Millerna fans they might be pointing out that her birthday is Green, 24th Moon and the Compendium says this is the equivalent of April 24.' It's a curious inconsistency and I have decided to allow for it as follows: the calendar arrangement I gave above is that observed in Asturia, Freid and Zaibach. For reasons no-one exactly understands any more, which means they are Tradition and must never be altered, the calendar of Fanelia contains a few minor differences, one of which is the transposition of the names of the fourth and twelfth months. The Fanelians also hold that the year doesn't start until the first Moon of White (FC), while the other nations celebrate New Year on the first of Black. This means both Millerna and Van have birthdays in the month equivalent to April, but if you asked Van he'd say his birthday was in White and Millerna would say hers was in Green. And Van would say his birthday was close to New Year; Millerna wouldn't.

The term Moon, in dates, simply refers to an individual day, and not, as I initially thought, to a month.

3. As for years, I am stumped. The only year named in the Compendium is the Year of Crystal Northeast, about ten years before the present-day events of Escaflowne, the year in which Celena Schezar went missing. Obviously a year-naming rather than numbering system is in place but I do not have enough information to figure it out.

Therefore, I've come up with the following fudge. (This is part of the basis of the stories following Scars.) The Gaea War was such a cataclysmic event, and the member nations of the Alliance that formed in its aftermath were so eager to make a point of their new beginning, that a year-numbering system was brought into force (some years later, as part of a continued modernisation drive, the currencies of Asturia and Freid were decimalised; Zaibach already had decimal currency and Fanelia resisted the change on the grounds that it was too complicated to pick up a new system of money when most people were still getting used to using coins for small transactions instead of chickens).

The year of the Gaea War is referred to as Year Zero, and the following years were numbered in the obvious order. (So Princess Therese of Asturia - more about her later and elsewhere - was born in Year One.) Although many people continue to refer to any year before Zero by its old-style name, many more, especially the younger generations, have adopted a sort of D-Day reference system, so the year before Year Zero is called Minus One. Celena Schezar Finn would certainly tell you she was abducted in Minus Ten. 'Minus Ten' is used colloquially as a synonym for a really crappy year (like the Latin 'Annus Horribilis,' 'year of horrors,' coined by Queen Elizabeth II to describe 1993), and by extension to refer to anything thoroughly unpleasant, as in 'How was your day, honey?' 'I lost my lunch money and we had a pop quiz. Minus ten.'

The practise of numbering rather than naming years was adopted in imitation of the Phantom Moon, and some people asked why, in that case, the Alliance nations did not simply start numbering years concurrently with the dominant Gregorian calendar. Apart from the uncertainty of knowing whether it is actually the same year on Gaea and on Earth at the same time (although the timestreams appear to have run more or less concurrently since Year Zero), as several people pointed out, the Gregorian calendar is calculated (inaccurately) from the date of birth of a Terran religious figure whose life has absolutely no relevance to people on Gaea. So numbering years from an event that mattered on Gaea made far more sense.

As long as we're talking about Terran religious figures who are completely unknown on Gaea, you may notice that people in the stories occasionally say 'Jeez.' This is not an inappropriate choice of word, since in Asturian discourse the term has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. The patron deity of Asturia is Jeture, the sea dragon (pronounced 'Jiichia'). As you may or may not know, there are a range of oaths in English which are garbled or euphemistic forms of expressions taking God's name in vain. Examples include 'Gadzooks,' from 'God's hooks' (the crucifixion nails), 'zounds,' from 'God's wounds' (which is why it does not rhyme with 'hounds,' though people often try to pronounce it that way), 'sblood,' from 'God's blood' and 'strewth,' from 'God's truth.' A lot of these have fallen out of use in modern English (although 'strewth' is still very common in Australia and New Zealand), but you see what I'm saying. 'Jeez,' obviously, developed in the same way.

Asturians have a variety of oaths related to Jeture in the same way, such as 'Jeture's teeth!' 'by Jeture's tail' or 'Jeture's scales.' These have in turn become garbled into forms like 'Jeesteeth' and 'Jeestail,' and further shortened to their slangiest form, simply 'Jeez.'

That's a rather neat rationalisation. Now I'll just have to make sure that I only have Asturian characters saying 'Jeez' or I'll have to make something else up *^.^*

The Pelonian Empire has never had any truck with the calendar systems of Laurasia, the continent on which Asturia and Fanelia are located; their calendar is calculated (accurately) from the birth of the prophet Tekuti, and calls the year of the Gaea War 4269. Several Pelonian scholars have pointed out that the name Gaea War is extremely inaccurate, since there are over a hundred countries on Gaea and only a handful were actually involved in this conflict - in fact, it was several months before anyone in Pelonia, for example, knew there had been any difficulty - but no-one pays any attention to Pelonian scholars, who are well-known for being very learned but intensely boring.

The system is further complicated for everyone by the people of the Awamut region of Asturia (known as Asturia's fruit bowl), who calculate dates based on a complex and often highly personal web of references to past local events (eg. 'I met him three months after Sutch's new barn went up, of course we called it the new barn then but the old barn as was blew down two years later so now it's just Sutch's barn,' 'She's eight years younger than my uncle, and my uncle was born the year the oak on the hill got split by lightning'). Often people from two separate Awamutian villages will not be able to understand one another's initial references to dates and will generally have a long wandering conversation until they stumble upon some point of reference which they have in common, often to do with someone's cousin. Rather than finding this inconvenient, most Awamutians consider it an icebreaker and a good way to get to know people. No-one from Awamut will ever tell you their age in a straightforward manner, because of an old superstition holding that it is unlucky to do so, for reasons which are now forgotten but thought to have something to do with avoiding the attention of the Evil Eye.

These practises, which appear perfectly sensible to the Awamutians and thoroughly eccentric to everyone else, have given rise to a few jokes within mainstream Asturian culture; a woman who is reticent about her exact age is 'an Awamut girl,' and anyone who is vague about times and dates, or habitually late for appointments, will be referred to as 'a visitor from Awamut.' This is somewhat unfair, since, as far as the Awamutians are concerned, they are being perfectly precise and accurate in their references, it's just that other people don't always understand them. Awamutians are actually very punctual people, and particularly good at remembering birthdays. They have to be.

Again, among the younger generation of Awamutians, the old system is falling out of use, especially since the Gaea War was a significant event for everyone in Asturia and thus the new year-numbering system falls in fairly neatly with Awamutian practise. (Gaddes Finn, later the Duke of Floresta, who was born in Awamut, is thought to have had something to do with this.) In any case, the Awamut system depends very much on living memory, with events in the more distant past traceable only through the family records kept in the flyleaves of holy Tomes. Most people will agree, reluctantly, that numbers are more efficient, but not as special.

4. The display on Hitomi's pager tells us that Amano paged her on the first of June, 1996. I take it from this that the events of the TV series take place over a summer, and Scars On the Heart kicks off in late July - sorry, Indigo.

It's also worthwhile to note that the scene at the very end of The Vision of Escaflowne, when Hitomi sees Van across the harbour and tells him she's fine, takes place a year later, when she is in her second year of high school; a year has gone by since she went home. What happens in between? That's partly what Stars In the Heart is about, but more of that, as with Princess Therese, later and elsewhere.

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