Back to School - Father Time

Too frequently I’ve heard about Mother Nature as the personification of earth, life-force, and the giver of life. It wasn’t until recently that I learned (or rather was reminded) about our old chum, Father Time. Now that’s not to downplay or in anyway slight Mother Nature (who would risk that), but seeing as this news feed is meant to be about time-based content it’s time to big up our man Father Time with a short history of his story.

The origins of Father Time as an image are peculiar and date back to an ancient mix up amongst the ancient Greeks. It was they who began to confuse chronos, their word for time, as well as its namesake Chronos (their personification of time) with their own agricultural god Cronos, who held a harvester’s sickle. The Romans also equated Cronos with their god Saturn, who also held a sickle, and was depicted as an old man, often with a crutch. This lead to the association of the figure of an elderly man with time, and its personification.

The modern look of Father Time, with wings and an hour glass, to mark the passage of time, was completed in the early Renaissance era. Later, Father Time became associated with the Grim Reaper, the personification of death, often taking his scythe. Father Time is also sometimes depicted with a snake tail in his mouth, an ancient Egyptian symbol of eternity and is also sometimes seen with another character and personification, Baby New Year, who characterises the coming year, whereas Father Time characterises the dying year just passed.

It is time, and the close association with death and the consumption of human life that is so intertwined with human existence that has made Father Time so popular and resulted in his depiction across numerous arts, literature, musics, and films over the centuries and across different cultures. Just see some of the artwork below!

Reminders of time and death can also spur on thoughts regarding our finite nature on this planet. Be it a close call, lucky escape, or any other reminder of one’s mortality, death and father time teach us that we are not in control of how much time we get and therefore our time is extremely valuable and should be appreciated. Experience with this will guide us into how best to use time and help us enjoy the ‘now’ and present more. Time and thoughts of death also help us prepare for the future and help us determine what sort of legacy we would like to leave, how to best make use of our time, and how we would see our final days – is there anything that we still need to do?

We hope you enjoyed this slightly morbid article on Father Time and hope you can take some useful messages from it. Stay tuned for more with Boutique Von Burg.