Revolutions, Republicans and the Seasons

About a year ago I adopted the French Republican Calendar for my personal journalling. Why? Really for republican.jpg no other reason than to be different. It offered me the opportunity to learn the Republican Calendar through practise (a word-a-day sort of arrangement). The upheaval of the switch to a new system in France in 1795, caused confusion, was not widely adopted and in the end was discontinued by Napoleon during the Empire. This was not before such references such as the Coup of 18 Brumaire and lobster Thermidor forever embedded the poeticisme of the calendaring system in our historical memory.

The calendar is divided in to 12 months of 30 days, with three weeks of 10 days each. The ‘extra’ days of the solar year were celebrated as special festival days (virtue, talent, convictions,labour, honours and the Revolution) – intended to solidly cement the triumph of the Revolution into the French psyche. Months are topically named after environmental characteristics of the months themselves and each day of the calendar is associated with a plant, mineral, tool, or animal. During the winter months, we have the months of snow, rain and wind. On a daily basis, today we celebrate Bette (Chard). When one considers the system it’s actually rather cool, if not practical. It emphasizes the individual or human’s position with in a larger natural world. Needless to say it is a humanist device and was considered integral to the secularization of the Republic. But after using it for nearly a full cycle now I quite like the way in which I am reminded of a single natural bounty, which one cannot help but reflect upon that day. It’s a wonderful reminder of one’s place as well as the fruits of the environment. It might be considered the ‘green calendar’.

If you are interested in more info about the calendar, the wikipedia entry is a great start, and has a number of additional references. Additionally, and I have really appreciated this, there is a Republican Calendar widget for the OSX dashboard available which reminds you of the date and its associated element.

On a personal note, a few days ago, the cycle changed and we entered the season of Germinal. I was personally struck by the change and felt quite positive – all the more Spring-like, but somehow more than the term spring brought to my mind. Even with the news reminders, and media attention to the advent of the Spring season, the turn to Germinal somehow was more profoundly striking. Germinal set me off picturing new growth, germination, the colour green and of re-awakening following the whiteness and bleakness of the the past season. In the Republican Calendar the past month was Ventôse and I honestly cannot remember a month when this seemed all the more appropriately descriptive. The winds howled this winter and this republican association with characteristics seemed both close and . With the change in cycle we are reminded that even without human intervention, the season do change and that we are part of an infinitely larger system. One nowe moving into a rich, vitalizing rebirth.

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