According to Jewish tradition, we are in the midst of an exceptionally joyous season, because throughout the Hebrew month of Adar (which is this month), there is an increase of joy and gladness. As it is written:
Mi-sh-Nich-nas Adar Mar-bim B’sim-cha
With the coming of Adar, comes increased joy and gladness
Why do we say this at this time of year? Because the festival of Purim comes in Adar! This year, however, we are receiving a double dose of joy, as this year there are two months of the joyful month of Adar!
Confused? If so, let me explain.
The Gregorian calendar (also known as the Western calendar) is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, which takes 365 days (plus an additional 48 minutes and 46 seconds). These additional minutes add up, and every four years an adjustment is made to compensate for this extra time by adding an additional day in February. Thus, every leap year, February 29 helps us calibrate our calendar.
Similarly, the Jewish calendar needs constant calibration, but these adjustments are a bit more complex. The Jewish calendar is luni-solar (meaning the months are determined by the cycles of the moon while the year is determined by the cycle of the sun). Here’s where things get tricky.
Since a purely lunar calendar year is 11 days shorter than a solar year, the Jewish calendar is calibrated by adding an entire month every two or three years. The month that is added is a second month of Adar. Thus, every few years the Jewish calendar has Adar I and Adar II, and the Jewish people are blessed with two months of joy!
May Adar I and Adar II be filled with great joy for all!