Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 5/The Turkish almanac

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The Turks, the youngest of all the Eastern nations, though they have now been for centuries in continual intercourse, political and commercial, with all the countries of the civilised world in and out of Europe, have, nevertheless, preserved to this day, in all their integrity, all the ancient prejudices and popular traditions of their race, and to which they still adhere with a pertinacity that neither time nor the frequent attempts at civilisation have, in the least, been able to modify. Even their common almanac (Takvim) shows how widely the Turks still differ from us in their views and notions of even common life relations, and no wonder that the Turkish astronomers direct their attention chiefly to the gratification of the popular taste in the daily wants, wishes, dealings, and requirements of practical life generally. The Takvim is thus the household book of the common people, and embraces all sorts of moral, social, religious, and even sanitary precepts, in a national point of view.

The very clumsy size and form of the Takvim speaks already of a different taste even in bookmaking, its width being about four inches, while the length measures upwards of six and a-half feet ! The top of the inside is adorned with various pictorial illustrations of stars, crescents, spheres, telescopes, arms, standards, &:c. These are followed by an astronomical account, written in a truly pathetic style, of the exact time when the sun is to pass the equinoctial line, and having reference to the respective eras as computed by the Copts, Greeks, and Arabs. Next comes the astronomical calendar, commencing Avith New Year's Day (Nevruz). It is introduced and pre- faced by some religious hymns and blessings on the heads of the orthodox believers. Then follow —from right to left— the old Turkish signs of the zodiac, with their Persian names: swine, dog, ox, leopard, crocodile, serpent, monkey, sheep, rat, horse, hen, and hare. Next come— from left to right— our Christian signs of the zodiac, with their Arabian names, as also of those of the sun, moon, and planets.

The Takvim is divided into twelve parts, under the following headings: — 1. Remarkable days; 2. Days of the week; 3. The Arabian era; 4. The Greek era; 5. Dominant constellations; 6. Hour and minute of sun-rise; 7. Mid-day prayers; 8. Afternoon prayers; 9. Evening prayers; 10. Morning prayers; 11. New moon; and 12. Miscellaneous.

We will select a few items for the month Moharrem (first month of the year), which begins on the 23rd of our February month.

1st day. — The moon rises in the north, high and bright. The second heat descends into the water. Storks arrive. Atshorday. (On that day the benevolent prepare from all sorts of fruit a dish called ashor, which they distribute amongst the poor.) The third heat descends to the earth, and the two seasons bcparate. The strength of winter is broken, and any subse- quent severe cold is of no duration. Rushes begin to sprout forth. The old women-winter [?] commences. Fir.st of March, old style. WooJ-pigeons make their appearance, and the old women-winter is at an end. The silk-worm season begins. 3rd 5th 10th 11th „ 14th „ IGth ,, 19lh ,, 20th ,, 27th „ In part 6 we read : — As the sua always sets at twelve, the hour for evening prayers remains unchanged ; but it varies with that of sunrise, which is not always the same The last part. Miscellaneous, contains things that are to be done on certain days in the month. — Visit cheerful society. 3rd are auspicious days. — Pay your respects to the great of the state. Learn music. Seek for the learned. Buy male slaves. Ordinary day. Portion your daughters. Engage in business. Work in gold and silver. Engage in maritime undertakings, in building wharves, docks, &c. Gladden the hearts of the needy. Converse with the wise. Prepare essences. Prepare electuaries. Avoid travelling or ascending mountains. Pay your respects to the ministers of state. 20th are lucky days. — Visit the pious. Give your company to your wives. ]>uy landed property. Keep quiet at home. 26th are lucky days. — Engage in commercial speculations. M.