A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When Calendars Collide

I thought I'd note an interesting fact about next week. At sunset on Tuesday, September 22, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, will begin. Just 24 hours later, at sundown September 23, the Muslim ‘Eid al-‘Adha begins, the Feast of Sacrifice culminating the Meccan Hajj.. Though both the Jewish and Muslim calendars are basically lunar, the Hebrew calendar periodically adds an intercalary (extra-calendrical) month to bring the lunar calendar closer to the solar, while the Islamic calendar expressly forbids this and is purely lunar. So this near juxtaposition of two of their major holy days is purely a coincidence, but I suspect security services will be on alert in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and around the world.

There are no major Christian feasts next week, but it happens that just a few hours before Yom Kippur begins in the Eastern United States, at 4 pm Eastern Daylight Time next Tuesday, Pope Francis will land in Washington for his first visit to the US, visiting DC, New York, and Philadelphia. It will be a busy week for all the Abrahamic faiths.

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