A Brief History Of The Calendar

We humans have been enthralled by the idea of keeping dates almost for as long as we have been on this planet. This article highlights some crucial points in our journey towards creating the modern calendar which is used all around the world today.

Calendars are tools that we humans can't seem to do without today. It can be found in almost every home, office, and mobile device we come across. But this handy tool has a long history alongside humans and has gone through a lot of changes through time. Historians have traced the use of the calendar to as far back as the Bronze Age, and there are speculations that it might have been used much earlier than that.

Let us go through a few of the many faces that the calendar has put on over the years.

The Ancient Calendars:

The Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia made the first calendar sometime around 3100 BC. Its major features are:

One year had 360 days, divided into 12 months, each consisting of 29 or 30 days.

* It is based on the phases of the moon.

* An extra month was added every four years

* A day was made up of 12 hours.

The Egyptian and Babylonian calendars were very much similar to the Sumerian calendar, save for a few changes, for example, the addition of 5 more days to constitute 365 days in a year. The Mayan calendar is very well known for the fatalistic predictions people made regarding the date 21st December 2012, when the Mayan calendar ended, and the world was apparently supposed to end. Needless to say, the world is still here and very much not-ended. It was later clarified that the end of the Mayan calendar was the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

The Chinese calendar, which has been in use since around 500 BC, is structured based on the sun's and the moon's phases. It is well known for its use of Zodiac signs to calculate the cycles of the years, for example, the year of the tiger, the year of the rat, the year of the dragon, etc. Although the Gregorian calendar is currently used by the Chinese for civil purposes, the Chinese calendar is still being observed in Chinese communities around the world.

The Roman Calendars:

The earliest Roman Calendars were based on the lunar cycles. A year was made up of 304 days, divided into ten months, namely; March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December. As time went on, lots of modifications were made, and the solar cycle was introduced to the calendar, making a year that consisted of 365 days and a quarter day. The months January and February were added before March, and a day was added to February every four years, 365 days. This later development was called the Julian calendar.

The Gregorian Calendar:

By the 16th century AD, Pope Gregory XIII became concerned about a slight error in the Julian calendar. Each year had a shortage of a fraction of a day, and by his time, this had amounted to a total of about ten days. Wanting the Easter date to be accurately set, Pope Gregory XIII proceeded to shift the date forward by ten days and correct the erroneous fraction. This gave rise to the Gregorian calendar. Needless to say, this change caused a lot of unrest among the people. Some believed that the Church was trying to cheat them out of their wages, and others believed that the Church was shortening the length of their lives! Long story short, the case was settled, and the Gregorian calendar is still the most widely used calendar today.

This isn't to say that the Gregorian calendar is one hundred percent accurate, no; but this is the closest we have come so far. Perhaps, in the future, there might be other versions of the calendar to come. We can only wait and see.

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