Father Time? Mother Earth? Baby New Year? What’s going on here? Inquiring minds want to know!
Father Time is a popular personification of the idea of time. Personification refers to representing an abstract idea in the form of a human person.
Toward the very end of each year, you will often see cartoons of Father Time reluctantly turning over his timekeeping duties to Baby New Year, a personification of the new year. These cartoons represent the idea of the old year (the old man, Father Time) giving way to the new possibilities of the new year (the young boy, Baby New Year).
Father Time’s image comes from the ancient Roman god of time, Saturn. The ancient Greeks often referred to Saturn as Kronos or Chronos, which means “time.”
Saturn was usually portrayed as an old man with a scythe since his functions related to farming, and his yearly festival was a harvest celebration. In Roman mythology, Saturn was the son of Uranus (representing heaven or “Father Sky”) and Gaea (representing “Mother Earth”).
Farmers used the scythe to cut crops at harvest time. Scythes are shaped like the crescent moon.
Like the natural lunar cycle, the scythe also symbolizes the natural cycle of birth, growth and death. Thus, in Father Time’s hands, the scythe still represents the unstoppable flow of time that will, in the end, cut down all living things.
The hourglass, with its grains of sands constantly falling, also represents the passage of time. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass will run out, and similarly, our physical presence on the Earth will end one day.
However, just like the hourglass can be turned upside down and started anew, a new generation of children can continue a family legacy. And the effects of time are not wholly destructive. While physical bodies wear out over time, time also gives the gift of wisdom that can only be developed by our experiences gained over a long period of time.
How will you make the best use of your time today? Never forget that time is a precious gift. Use it wisely!