Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Time Quotes Page 2
How we cite our quotes:
When New Year’s was so fresh that it had hardly begun,
Double helpings of food were served on the dais that day.
(60 - 61)
Now the narrative becomes more specific about when we are - New Year’s day. This day will be important to the rest of the story, since it’s the day on which Gawain will need to meet the Green Knight at the Green Chapel.
And I shall stand his blow unflinching on this floor,
Provided you assign me the right to deal such a one
And yet grant him respite
A twelvemonth and a day.
(294 - 295)
"A twelvemonth and a day" is a very traditional period of waiting in fairy tales and romances. In this particular case it’s an effective strategy to make the knight in question wait this long to receive his return blow. What could be a better test of honesty than forcing a knight to meet you (on his honor) in a year and a day, after he’s had all that time to think about what’s coming (and to consider backing out)?
This wonder had Arthur as his first New Year’s gift
When the year was newborn.
(491 - 492)
Characterizing the Green Knight’s challenge as a gift for the day "when the year was newborn" means that it kind of sets the tone for the year to follow. And sure thing, we read the next section with anticipation of Gawain’s impending challenge very much on our minds.