When Geeks Overthink the Holidays

meteor shower, christmas 2010

This advent calendar involves the birth of the universe

That headline? I wrote it with love. Because check out Spencer Hargiss’ fantastic idea for an advent calendar and see if you wouldn’t conclude the same thing. Rather than leading up to the birth of a baby Jesus, Hargiss has come up with an idea for an advent calendar that counts down from the birth of the universe to modern humans.

Maybe you and the kids caught a glimpse of the Leonids meteor shower last night and early this morning? Clearly you’re family is ready to step up your awareness of the cosmos. (Bonus: this project is way easy and your kids won’t learn much of any of it in school).

This advent calendar takes an entire year to unfold (you start January 1 and end December 31), but should please people of any faith (save creationists), atheists, and those hard-core parents you know who hope to turn every corner of their house into learning stations for the kids. It’s based on Carl Sagan’s cosmic calendar idea, which Hargiss explains thusly:

Over the course of the past few centuries, science has pieced together a creation story longer, weirder and more overwhelming than most religions ever dared to imagine. And we’ve barely begun the task of connecting ourselves to our newfound ancestry emotionally.

Part of the reason is that the timescales involved are so vast, it’s hard to know where to start. Science popularizer Carl Sagan invented a good metaphor for conveying the immensity of the timescales involved: the cosmic calendar. The idea is to condense the entire history of the known universe into a single year …

The calendar is also a way to connect with the natural world, which Hargiss argues has been a goal of humans since hominids evolved (that’s Dec.30 on the Cosmic Calendar Advent).

What the hell, we’re totally doing it. The fact that it involves glitter and glue might mitigate the fact that little squares of mediocre chocolate won’t pop out of a black sheet of construction paper that is to hang on a wall for FIVE MONTHS before we add the galaxy.

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