Which Of These Countries Has A Traditional Calendar With Dozens Of Microseasons?
Depending on your local culture, you may have a variety of mental markers that signal the passage of time in addition to regular holidays and seasons. Certain flowers blooming, birds nesting, crops coming to harvest, and so on are all things that mark the progress of the year without officially appearing on our calendars—as fun as it would be, “tulips bloom” is not a federal holiday in the United States.
Yet the traditional Japanese calendar, charmingly enough, does mark off the little things. Descended from classical Chinese sources, years in Japan are traditionally divided into 24 major divisions called “sekki”, and each of those divisions are then split again into three smaller divisions called “kō” (that last around five days each).
The divisions aren’t simply numeric, but are specifically named after environmental events. The very first sekki, for example, is “Risshun” or “the beginning of spring”, and it’s divided into three kō that translate, roughly, into “East wind melts the ice”, “Bush warblers start singing in the mountains”, and “fish emerge from the ice”. Other kō found throughout the year include things like “first peach blossoms”, “frogs start singing”, and “rice ripens”.
We don’t know about you, but we think the entire tradition is terribly charming and would love to have a similar calendar describing the subtle changes around us throughout the year that mark the passage of time.