Every year in December I get a new calendar. I like to have a paper calendar on my desk or on the wall. My favorites have art reproductions. I like the ritual of changing the pages month by month! I choose calendars that allow me to write tiny notes on it! Today it's hard to believe that so much work was put into creating the perfect calendar, a calendar well adjusted to the changing of the seasons, passing of time measurement and religious traditions. I read that the oldest lunar calendar ever created is believed to be identified on the walls of the prehistoric caves at Lascaux in France. It's a collection of black filled dots and a stroked square on the cave's wall! How did calendars evolved from it? some topics on troubled and fascinating calendars evolution!
First calendar in history!From Lascaux to Roman Empire in a few lines!
The discovery of Lascaux's dots was in the news in year 2000. Dr Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich, says groups of dots and squares painted among representations of bulls, antelope and horses depict the 29-day cycle of the Earth's satellite. Isn't this amazing? This happened 15.000 years ago!
Since prehistoric times man was fascinated by the succession of days and nights and the phases of the Moon. These phenomena led to the concepts of days and months. The concept of years was developed when agriculture also developed and primitive people became aware of the cycle of seasons. The periods in calendars are :
- the astronomical day: 24 h time interval between two consecutive passages of the Sun by the meridian of a place,
- the lunar month: 29 -30 days two consecutive conjunctions of the moon with the sun
- the year: 365 days length of Earth's revolution around the sun.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. Gregorian calendar is solar calendar and there is also a third type, the luni-solar calendar -Jewish calendar.
The Egyptians divided the year into 12 months, and 30 days each month, for three decades. According to their agricultural activities dependent on flooding of the Nile flood season, - the floods,planting season and harvest season -the Egyptians also divided the year into three seasons.
The Greeks established a lunar year divided into 12 months of 30 and 29 days alternately. As also happened in the Egyptian calendar months were devoted to the gods and festivals.
Roman's calendar had an year of 304 days spread over 10 months. The first 4 months names were dedicated to the gods of Roman mythology - Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius. The remaining 6 were designated by ordinal numbers - Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November and December.This primitive calendar was not related with sun or moon movements. Romans introduced a lot of changes in this primitive calendar. But it did not work. What was happening? When a new year started it did not match the proper season!
On calendars evolution - Julius Caesar and the Year of Great Confusion!
Julius Caesar ordered (708 in Rome or 46 BC) that two months should be added, one with 33 days, another 34 days. That year had a total of 445 days, the greatest of all time in the history of the calendar! It become known as the Year of confusion - Roman Empire was very large and at that time communications were poor. So when this reform news arrived to some regions people there had already begun a new year! This Julian calendar had months of 30 days for the first time. Romans were supersticious about even number days.It had always been considered harmful to have a calendar with it!
The Gregorian Calendar - Pope Gregory III and his unpopular reform!
But again Julian calendar wasn't perfect. The equinox at Greek Sosigenes time occurred around March 25. At the time of Pope Gregory it took place on 11 March! This would cause problems with Easter date. The advent of Christianity and spread of doctrine influenced the change of the calendar. Pope Gregory III had the determination to solve the problem. The Gregorian reform was intended to return the Spring equinox on March 21 and undo the mistake of the existing difference of 10 more days. He issued the bull Inter Gravissimas which provided the essential points of the new calendar. Portuguese scientists from Coimbra's University were involved in the study of the solution. Portugal, Spain and Italy were the only countries that have accepted the immediate reform of the calendar.This reformation was very unpopular and a lot of countries did not apply it immediately. Protestants even invoked that Gregory III's reform was a devils thing!
A new calendar in the making? Yes! Perfection is yet to come! Maybe Gregorian calendar isn't the last one on the calendars' evolution. Why? Because it still has some practical incoherency. The number of days of each month is very irregular (28 to 31 days). Weeks are almost universally adopted as the unit of labor time. But some are not fully integrated in months, they spread from one to another. This implicates with the rational distribution of work and wages. Also a fixed monthly salary must be distributed by a different number of days. Christian are not completely satisfied with the mobility of the Holy Week too. It messes with the length of school, touristic and legal activities. So maybe one day not in our Era some scientists and church authorities meet again to reform the calendar as we know it!!
(Calendar Lascaux discovery. - Dr Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich, and Lascaux discovery. / Portuguese article on calendars evolution - Manuel Nunes Marques, Director Observatório Astronómico de Lisboa,wrote an excelent article on evolution of calendars. It's in Portuguese.I mainly follwed it to collect notes to write this post. )
What is your favorite theme for Calendars? There's a lot to choose from on Zazzle marketplace!
2014 Silken Windhounds calendar Melanie Horn 3 by b1kroczak_sf