Part of the problem with calendar reform is that calendars have to do with our lived experiences with time, our habits, our rhythms, and our memories, which requires radical changes to all of that.
Despite the difficulty of coordinating the orbits of the celestial bodies with the cycles of day and night, human societies have tried since ancient times to develop their own calendars to line up the seasons and astronomical phenomena in the same months of each year, hence the various solar and lunar calendars.
In an article published on the Australian website The Conversation, Matthew Champion, a researcher in medieval and early modern studies at the Australian Catholic University, wrote that the modern Western calendar is chaotic because of the difficulty of coordinating the number of days of the year with the orbits of the celestial bodies, the cycles of the day and night, and the succession of seasons.
The solar calendar adopted by the ancient Roman Empire is the basis of the modern Western calendar, or what is known as the Julian calendar, which was established by the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar in 46 BC and entered into force in 45 BC.
This calendar estimates the days of the solar year at 365.25 days, and adds one day every 4 years, which is known as a leap year.
The Julian calendar overcame the problem of accumulating errors in calculating the timing as a result of the presence of a quarter of a day each year in the previous solar calendars, but that timing, which lasted until the 16th century AD, had another problem.
The Julian calendar left a gap of 11 minutes and 14 seconds, and the order of the months and their names were tampered with for political considerations. For example, the arrangement of the month of November – whose name is derived from the number 9 in the Latin language (novem) – was the 11th in the calendar instead of the 9th, as a result of moving the beginning of the Roman year from March to begin later in January, Just like the current reality.
The new months and names were manipulated and reorganized to suit the mechanisms of power. August – for example – is named after Emperor Augustus. As Australian historian Christopher Clark said, “Just as gravity bends light, so force corrupts time.”
Medieval Christian calendar
Several parties – led by the Church – worked to preserve the Christian calendar during the Middle Ages, but disagreements, conflicts and conflict of interests led to many differences in the Western calendar, according to the article.
The beginning of the year, for example, differed greatly in medieval societies, where the year began on some calendars on March 25 – for church traditions, that date represented the anniversary of Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary, peace be upon them – and in other calendars on December 25 / December, the day that church tradition considers the day of Christ’s birth.
In that era also, the problem of the 11-minute appeared, as the Julian calendar counts the number of days in the year 365.25, which is 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the (actual) solar year, and this led to a gradual change in the timing of the seasons in the months of the year.
The date of Easter also caused confusion in the Western calendar. At first, the celebration took place during the spring equinox in the northern half – and symbolizes the victory of the forces of light over darkness – but when the spring equinox began to recede in time with the passage of years, a distinction began to appear between the “legal” Easter. Or theoretical – defined by the calendar – and “natural” moderation, that is, moderation that can be observed.
As the gaps widened, scholars and clerics disputed how to reform the calendar, either by removing a few days from the year, or reorganizing it.
The issue became particularly pressing in the 15th century, as a number of calendar reform proposals failed to gain sufficient political support across Europe.
One of these proposals was recently discovered in a printed book in the university library and was hidden, and the book written by the University of Louvain theologian, Peter de Rivaux in 1488, shows that he proposed removing 10 days from the calendar. After great controversy and response, those ten days were deleted, when Pope Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome in the 16th century, reformed the calendar in 1582, and the date jumped once from the fourth of October to the 15th of October of the same year.
The reform came in 1582 in a world worn out by religious divisions, some old and some new. Protestant England did not adopt the changes until the 18th century, and Greece was the last European country to adopt the Gregorian calendar in 1923. Many Orthodox Christian communities continued to follow the Julian calendar with subsequent revisions to that calendar; To prove that this issue is controversial and raises more divisions.
Despite the Pope’s religious position, many non-Catholic countries did not adopt this improved calendar, and many Eastern and Roman Orthodox churches remained on the Julian calendar, and the difference between the two calendars is currently 13 days, which created the difference between Christmas on December 25 and the seventh of January. January in the Christian denominations.
In the modern era, some astronomers, mathematicians, religious scholars and even church councils are calling for the need to improve or issue the current church calendar, which throughout the Middle Ages has been losing contact with astronomical phenomena at an alarming pace.
French Revolution calendar
The writer adds that several thinkers in the 18th century addressed the issue of establishing a new calendar that is better than the Gregorian calendar. The controversy reached its climax during the French Revolution. In 1793, the revolutionary government limited the month to 30 days (a week 10 days), leaving 5 to 6 days out of the year.
The revolutionary government also shifted the beginning of the year to the autumnal equinox, because the equality between light and darkness was a symbol of the values of the new republic. This was a victory for reason – from the point of view of the authors of the calendar – but it proved to be a failure from an astronomical point of view.
Part of the problem with calendar reform is that calendars have so much to do with our lived experiences with time, our habits, our rhythms, and our memories that it all requires drastic changes, according to The Conversation article.