A New Year, We Hope

By Mary Frances Erler

A new year has finally arrived!  I’m sure almost everyone is glad to see 2020 go away. Old Father Time, known as Chronos (the source of words like chronology and chronometer) to the Greeks, and Saturn to the Romans, is still a feature of our new year celebrations.  You know, the old bearded man with the scythe, who hobbles away as the old year passes.

When I took high school Latin, we were told “Io Saturnalia” meant Merry Christmas, sort of.  Most of Roman history was pre-Christianity, so Saturnalia was actually a pagan holiday celebrating the arrival of the New Year, as well as the Winter Solstice.

Saturn was the “grandfather” of the Gods, the father of Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) who was, in turn, father of most of the rest of the gods in mythology. I find it interesting that old Saturn still shows up this time of year as Father Time, the thing we cannot control, because it just marches on.  

The planet Saturn was in the news this year, too, because Saturn and Jupiter were closer together from our viewpoint here on earth than they’ve been for over 600 years.  I sure hope this is a good omen for the year 2021.  We need all the hope we can get!

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