Father Time? Mother Earth? Baby New Year? What’s going on here? Inquiring minds want to know!

When you see Father Time, he usually looks like a very old man with a long white beard. He often wears a shabby robe and carries both a scythe and an hourglass or some other timekeeping device.

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!


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    • Hello there, Jaden! We hope you didn’t fall asleep and miss out on this Wonder of the Day! That song was very calming, we agree…but we learned a lot about Baby New Year and Father Time! :-)

  1. I sure hope Father Time doesn’t use his scythe to bring 2012! (End of the world) I wonder if that can happen? I’m Batman!

    • We don’t know… we suppose you’ll have to wait to find out, Batman! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! We’re so glad you’re here! :)

      • Hey there, Soroya! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, you did a great job of sharing your excitement about this timely Wonder! We are so glad you visited us and you shared your comment, too! What will you do to celebrate Fathers Day this weekend? :)

    • We’re SUPER happy you’re spending time WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! We’re glad you enjoyed the video and watched it more than once! We hope you join us in Wonderopolis again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Did Father Time have children?
  • What is personification?
  • Who was Saturn?

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Try It Out

How will you celebrate Father’s Day? Let’s head outside for some fun in the summer sun.

Here are some ideas you can use to make it a memorable Father’s Day:


Still Wondering

Do you want to grow up to be just like your dad? Check out EDSITEment’s Like Father, Like Son: Presidential Families lesson to learn about and discuss two U.S. families in which both the father and son became president.


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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is a bit flighty, but that’s OK. Wonders of a feather flock together!

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