Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Norman E. Rosenthal | Go to book overview

THIRTEEN

A Brief History
of Seasonal Time

So far, I have discussed the discomfort and disability the seasons can cause and have considered light largely as a medication. These factors, however, account for only a small part of the effect that light and the seasons have on the mind. The seasons provided an impetus for the development of our solar calendar and helped us come to terms, both intellectually and emotionally, with the passing of time. The fluxes in mood, energy, and vitality that may be experienced with the changing seasons have infused many people with a creative energy that has been the source of many of their finest achievements. These internal changes, coinciding as they do with those in the natural world, have inspired artists and writers to express, in paint or in words, the shifting beauty of their landscape. It is these other aspects of light and the seasons that are the subject of this chapter.

Although the solar calendar may seem commonplace to us, since we use it on a daily basis, our earliest measure of time was based on the more obvious monthly cycle of the moon. The calendar helped ancient civilizations predict the changing seasons and decide when to plant their crops. A major problem with the lunar year, which consisted of twelve months, was that it fell short of the 365-day solar year

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