My son came home one day and blurted, “Did you know that the first ever calendar only had 10 months??”
(I actually didn’t know that, but I acted all cool about it…)
He wanted to know more about ancient calendars and how our modern day calendar came about… and he was very annoyed that I didn’t know the answers RIGHT NOW AND OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.
Thanks buddy. I’m already the resident cook, house cleaner, personal taxi driver and the best person for cuddles in the whole family… and now I have to be a freaking walking encyclopaedia?!
So we jumped online and the results were so interesting, that I’ve decided to share it with you all!
(I also decided that these little critters are my favourite embodiment of a modern day calendar haha!)
Our modern day calendar is essentially the Gregorian Calendar, which is a tweak of the Julian Calendar, which in turn was a tweak of the Early Roman Calendar, which was essentially based on a lunar calendar. Of course the Mayans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese had their own calendars too, also based on the lunar cycles.
It seems there were a lot of TRICKY MATHS and astronomy involved in calendar making… so over the history of time, there was a lot of calendar tweaking.
The Early Roman Calendar had 304 days in the year, with only 10 months, and the year started in March (or Martius) in honour of Mars. So there was no January or February. This is why the names of our months seem a bit off… September is our 9th month, but septem means seven; October is our 10th month, but octo means eight; November is our 11th month, but novem means nine, and December is our 12th month, but decem means ten. Now you know why!
Around 713 BC, a new Roman king shuffled things around to create a calendar year consisting of 355 days, and added two new months, January and February.
That stayed around until 46BC, then Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar where each year has 365 days, with a leap day added to February every 4 years.
His predecessor, Augustus the emperor of Rome, changed a couple of the month names in honour of Julius (July) and himself (August).
Well the Julian Calendar sounds exactly like the modern calendar right?
Apparently, if we follow this Julian rule, then every 400 years, we would GAIN 3 DAYS… all our seasons would be out of whack, our sun and moon would not be in the right place and our crops will fail.
So in 1582 the Gregorian Calendar added a 0.002% correction to the year… and came up with the rule:
Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. (from Wikipedia)
Whatever. Like I said. Tricky. Maths. Involved.
The new Gregorian calendar wasn’t widely accepted when it was first proposed. It was only until 1752, that Britain and the US adopted it, by which time they were 11 days ahead and out of sync with the seasons. So they had to correct it ALL by having the day 2 September 1752 followed by 14 September 1752. 11 days were taken away just like that! Lots of people were unhappy and against the new change, claiming the Catholic Church was stealing their days.
So interesting right?
I wish someone would steal my days.
I want it to be summer already! (It is winter here in Australia.)