Monday, 5 September 2016

matriculation or bailiff and bail

I believed like most among the reluctant and truant—later to be superseded by something called the end of Daylight Savings time which elicits an almost universal groan of complaint, that the academic year had the cycle it does in order to take advantage of child-labour.
That children ought not be released to pursue more rarefied and noble things until the season’s bounty (in northern climes) had been duly harvested seemed plausible—though I never knew any classmates who told of summers spent toiling in the fields and despite the fact that instruction began well ahead of our traditional thanksgiving rituals. Perhaps it was something inherited and was allowed to creep earlier in the year, like Christmasy retail pep-rallies. The cycle of primary education, however, is parallel to the ancient schedule of the first universities, revived in the Middle Ages, whose school year corresponded with the fiscal year, marked by Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael and the Archangels on the penultimate day of September (or a bit later in the Julian calendar). Though the connection between the expulsion of Lucifer and the settling of annual accounts might seem as tenuous as the logic above (and time-tables for tax regimes vary widely, though the more vibrant sunsets and delayed dawns might remind of this Fallen Angel, and thus in a sense seasonally-locked), most governments, businesses and academic institutions derive the time they set aside for this reckoning, the dismissal, renegotiation and renewal of contracts according to this calendar. New pupils and teachers were evaluated at this time, as well. Gaudeamus igitur.