February – ‘the enemy to pleasure and the time of patience’

February Title page from Kalendar of Shepherds.
February Title page from Kalendar of Shepherds.

The 15th Century French, illustration shows February as a time to cut firewood, dress warmly and stay by the fire. Food on the table is a nutritious pie and the fish are there to remind us it is the month of Pisces. In the other roundel is the other February star sign the Water Carrier, Aquarius.

pisces from the zodiac from kalendar of shepherds
Pisces From the zodiac from kalendar of shepherds

The poem above is a reference to Candlemas’s celebration of the presentation of the child Jesus at the Temple, and the paragraph below gives a summary of February. It ends with the idea that runs through the Kalendar – there are twelve apostles, twelve days of Christmas, twelve months in the year, and twelve blocks of six years in a person’s allotted 72 years of life. So February is linked to the second block of 6 years in a person’s life, ages 6 to 12. In January, the Kalendar suggests the essential uselessness of 0-6 year old children, while here, for February, it allows that from 6-12 years old children are beginning to ‘serve and learn’.

Below, is the text for February which gives a rural view of life in winter and ends with the line that February ‘is the poor man’s pick-purse, the miser’s cut-throat, the enemy to pleasure and the time of patience.’

About the Kalendar of Shepherds.

The Kalendar was printed in 1493 in Paris and provided ‘Devices for the 12 Months.’ I’m using a modern (1908) reconstruction of it using wood cuts from the original 15th Century version and adding various text from 16th and 17th Century sources. (Couplets by Tusser ‘Five Hundred Parts of Good Husbandrie 1599, and text descriptions of the month from Nicholas Breton’s ‘Fantasticks of 1626. This provides an interesting view of what was going on in the countryside every month.


Old Moore’s Almanac, January 12th

ebay advert screenshot for Old Moore's Almanac 2024
eBay advert screenshot for Old Moore’s Almanac 2024

This week I received my copy of Old Moore’s Almanac. This is probably the best known Almanac in the Uk. It follows the format of Alamancs which have been published since the medieval period as I discussed in an earlier post about the Kalendar of Shepherds of the 15th Century. Almanacs became the third most popular book published in London.

Old Moore’s, which claims ancestry back to 1697, begins with a large tranche of predictions both for the world and for celebrities, based on astrology. 2024, Frances Moore says, is the ‘Year of Hope’. He says, ‘we may have a good time, [but] a severe money problem from elsewhere may surface to worry us’. Hedging his bets or what?!

He predicts astonishing advances in technology, and thinks that Britain is in a good place to profit from these advances in healthcare, IT, and Robotics.

We need good, old-fashioned leadership to get through challenging times, with Pluto in Aquarius and Saturn through Pisces, we should be steered to ‘safe management.’

Wokery will lead us down a spiral to weakness. However, the Tories will remain disorganised with the country receptive to caring Socialism, with an upsurge in local power. The UK will become a more caring society.

Old Moore hints that Putin might be indicted. The US will have deep financial and social problems. The election might be close, but he also suggests Trump’s support might be on the wane.

There is a page for each month, noting the calendar events such as Epiphany, Burns Night, Australia Day, and other days filled with very random notable events chosen to represent that day through history- 2nd Jan Conquest of Granada 1462. 9th Jan Duchess of Cambridge b. 1982, 13th Jan Trump impeached 2021 etc. It also gives a forecast for the Month. January is likely to see constitutional change, Old Moore predicts which seems very unlikely.

Next are columns for Sun rise and set, high water at London Bridge, moon at London. And a weather column. (Early cold spell followed by normal rainy pattern), which isn’t wrong yet.

It has pages of predictions for celebrities such as King Charles III, which suggests ‘communication problems’ in the family. Who could have guessed that! Anton Du Beke, Adele. Zelenskyy, whose entry suggests success will be achieved only by diplomacy; otherwise the stubbornness predicted by the stars will lead to a long stalemate.

Then there are charts for each star sign. Towards the back are astrological help for winning on Horse Racing, Greyhound Racing, Football pools, Bingo, Lottery, Lucky Lotto, Euro Millions and pages for sowing and planting times for gardening by the moon, and a Guide for Anglers.

£5.41 good value, or is it just cheap? It was £3.50 in 2022.