Today, anyone can buy a calendar at the store or get one as an app on their phone. They are also taken for granted. I am sure that very few people realize that if one day they disappeared, how much our lives would be turned up side down and inside out. If you recall, I talk a little bit about that in A Matter of Time- Part 1.
I mean, think about it. Without calendars there would be no birthdays, no elections, no Olympics. No one would know what day their favorite TV show was on or when their day off was.
Centuries ago, the closest thing to a calendar was the weather. People knew their were four seasons (though some societies claimed more) and every four seasons was a year. This method worked fine, for a time. The issue was, no one could set dates. People were invited to get-togethers the day of, governments worked out problems whenever someone showed up.
|Picture by Linda C. Wagner|
Astronomers helped fix most of the problems. They noticed that the moon waxed and waned regularly and that constellations appear at certain times. Using this knowledge, they set up the first calendars. However, their calendars vary from one civilization to another.
Jewish calendars had lunar months of 29-30 days and years of 12-13 months. For religious reasons, this calendar is still in use. Here is a website that does a good job of explaining how this works and why.
Egyptians were odd though. They had three seasons which followed the flow of the Nile River. For tax reasons, 12 standard months of 30 days were used. This resulted in a 360 day year, which is too short. So, at the beginning of the year, they would always add 5 days of feasting and religious rituals.
Many other cultures and countries had their own calendars. China had one similar to that of the Jewish Calendar, but they repeated their calendar every 60 years. Mayans created their own calendar even without contact with the East.
This will be my last post of the subject of Time. If you want to know more on the topic, here is a link I found.
I have yet to decide what topic I will post about next week, so if you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments.