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									                                                                               Stuart Kohl
                                                                          Alecia Zimostrad
                                                                                Julie Shade
                                                                                 MTH 553
                                                                           MWF 1:00-1:50

                            Calendars From Around the World

       If you were to ask someone what the name of the most widely used calendar in

the world is most likely they would not know. The fact of the matter is most people take

the calendar for granted. Where exactly did today’s calendar come from? The answer to

this question can become extremely complicated, because there have been many different

calendars of the past that have led to the creation of the most commonly used calendar of

today. Keep in mind there have been many different calendars used throughout time, but

the following are some of the more popular calendars or more influential to our own.

There are three main types of calendars, the lunar, the solar, and the lunisolar. The lunar

calendar looks at the amount of time it takes for the moon to orbit the Earth. The solar

calendar is when the people used the amount of time the Earth took to go around the sun.

The lunisolar is when the calendar incorporates both the lunar and solar calendars.

       First, the first calendar that we investigated was the calendar that was used and

created by the Babylonians. The Babylonians used a calendar which consisted of

alternating 29 and 30 day months. This particular calendar needed to have an extra

month added three times every eight years in order for it to stay on track with the solar

year. Even with the extra month added it did not always make up the difference between

the solar and the lunar year. A month would sometimes be added by the king if the
months were not aligned correctly with the two seasons that the Babylonians had,

summer and winter. In Mesopotamia the “summer” season includes the barley harvest in

the second half of May or the beginning of June. The “winter” season roughly

corresponds to today’s fall and winter. In the northern parts there were either 3 or 4

seasons depending on where you are. The Sumerian administration needed a time unit

comprising the whole agricultural cycle. The financial year began about two months

after barley cutting. For other purposes a year began before or with the harvest. It was

necessary for the lunar year of about 354 days to be brought into line with the agricultural

(solar) year of about 365 days. Their calendar consisted of 365 days and a new month

would begin whenever a new moon was visible. This calendar influenced the

neighboring states in particular the Jewish calendar.

        Second, the next calendar that we looked at is one of the most well known

calendars, the Mayan calendar. The Mayan’s had an extremely complex calendar but it

was also very accurate. One interesting fact about the Mayan calendar is the fact that

they built a pyramid called Chichen Itza who's main purpose was to be used as a

calendar. The Mayan calendar was obviously used by the Mayan people but the Aztecs

and the Toltec were also known to have used the Mayan calendar. However, one

difference is that the Aztecs used a calendar stone instead of a pyramid. The Mayan

calendar had 3 different dating system which were named Long Count, Tzolkin and

Haab. To show just how complex this calendar was a Mayan date would look something

like this:
                          ,3 Cimi 4 Zotz

        Third, another well known calendar that we did research on was the Chinese calendar.

The Chinese calendar was based on astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the

different phases of the moon. This calendar can be dated as far back as the 14th century B.C.E.

Legend has it that Emperor Huangdi invented the calendar in 2637 B.C.E. The Chinese calendar

is very similar to the Hebrew calendar because it combines the solar and lunar calendar. Their

calendar had a leap year which contained 13 months and had 383, 384 or 385 days in a year. To

determine a leap year they had to calculate the number of new moons between the 11th month in

one year to the 11th month in the next year. If there are 13 new moons a leap month must be

inserted. Much like the Babylonian calendar, a new month would start with the appearance of a

new moon. The Chinese calendar did not count years but the years have names that repeated

every 60 years. When naming a year there are two components. The first component is a

Celestial Stemm, these are: jia, yi,bing, ding, wu, ji, geng, xin, ren, or gui. The second

component is a Terrestrial Branch which are names of animals in the zodiac cycles: Zi (rat),

Chou (ox), yin (tiger), mao (rabbit), chen (dragon), si (snake), wu (horse), wei (sheep), shen

(monkey), you (rooster), xu (dog), hai (pig). Therefore, the 1 st year of the 60-year cycle becomes

jia-zi, and the 2nd year is yi-chou. The current 60-year cycle started on February 2, 1984. On

February 7, 2008 it will be the year of the rat and the Chinese year 4706.

        Fourth, the next calendar that we decided to explore was the Egyptian calendar. This

particular calendar was most likely the first calendar that used the solar calendar. The Egyptian

calendar is the earliest that was ever recorded, and it is thought that their calendar began in 4236
B.C. The Egyptians had three types of calendars and also three season which were named

Inundation, Going Forth and Deficiency. The months of the Egyptian calendar had names which

were used for religious purposes.

         Fifth, another important calendar that we looked at was the Roman calendar. It is the

Roman calendar that is responsible for the months being the lengths that they are in the calendar

that we use today. The Roman Calendar has changed many times. Originally it was a lunar

calendar and it was believed Romulous, the founder of Rome created it. The Roman calendar

eventually became a Lunisolar Calendar. The Roman’s were one civilization that named the days

of the week, and they named them after various Germanic or Norse Gods. The Roman’s named

the first day of the week Kalendae which was the day that debts were due. This being said,

Roman people probably hated the first day of the week as much as people today do. It was

actually from the word Kalendae that we got the word calendar. The accounting books that the

Romans used were called calendarium. Julius Caesar eventually hired an astronomer to create a

calendar that did not use lunar cycles and made months 30 and 31 days long and the month of

February 28 days longs. This new calendar was not known as the Roman calendar but is called

the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar is very similar to the calendar that is most widely used


         Finally, the final, and probably the most important, calendar that we studied was the

Gregorian calendar. This calendar is so important because it is the calendar that is most widely

used today. As stated before, the Gregorian calendar is very similar to the Julian calendar. Pope

Gregory XIII is responsible for the creation of the Gregorian calendar which he created in 1518.
The Julian calendar was still the most used calendar until 1582. The Gregorian calendar is much

more accurate to a solar year. There is actually about an 11 minute difference each year between

the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. England began using the Gregorian calendar in 1752 after

the Great Britain Calendar Act of 1751 was passed. Even though the Gregorian calendar is the

most used it still has weaknesses. For instance, the Gregorian calendar cannot be cut into equal

halves or quarters, and also months do not have the same number of days. Also, holidays can be

on any day of the week and years and months can start on any day of the week.

        In conclusion, people today just do not have a thorough education on the calendar that

they use or of calendars from the past. It is important to know the history of something that is so

widely used in the world today, and all the transitions that calendars have been through

throughout time. Eventually the Gregorian calendar will most likely phase out and another

calendar will be more commonly used. This could prove to be a hard pill for many people to










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