Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Calendar Started

How was the calendar started?

            Since the beginning of civilization, man has been observing the sunrise and sunset, and experiencing the occurrence of the day and night. He also observed the various phases of the moon, from one full moon to the next, and the cyclic change in the seasons. He realized that crops did not grow at all times nor was the temperature uniform throughout the year.

Roman Calendar

            With fast developing science, man understood things more correctly. The time taken by the earth to complete one rotation on its axis came to be called as day and night. The time taken by the moon to complete one revolution around the earth was called a month, and the time taken by the earth to complete one revolution around the sun as one year, which comprised 365 days.

            The Egyptians were the first to have a calendar of one year comprising 12 months, each of 30 days. Five extra days were added at the end of the year, thus making a total of 365 days. The people of Greece used the lunar calendar.

            The roman ruler Julius Caesar took a major step in 46 B.C. he sought the help of the Greek astronomer Sosigenes, to adopt uniform calendar. He finally accepted the calendar based on the time take b the earth to complete one revolution around the sun, which is 365 ¼ days; this is known s the solar calendar. The extra quarter of day caused confusion, so Caesar ordered that the ear 46 B.C. should have 445 days so as to catch up.

            The astronomers of Caesar finally adopted a year consisting of 365 days, and every fourth year had 366days, so that one-fourth of a day left out every year was compensated in the fourth year. This fourth year was called the leap year. Any year divisible by the number 4 was taken to be a leap year.

            365 days of a year were divided into twelve months. The months January, March, May, July, august, October, and December consisted of 31 days each, while April, June, September and November consisted of 30 days each. The month February was taken to consist of 28 days, whereas, in the leap year, it would have 29 days. This calendar continued for 1600 years.

            Subsequently, an error of 10 days was defected in these calculations, because the earth actually takes 365.2422 days to complete one revolution round the sun, making a difference of 7.8 days over a period of 1000 years. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII took a decision to drop ten days form the year 1582, and for future accuracy, he ordered that a leap ear should be skipped in the last year of every century unless it was divisible by 400. So 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 was a leap year. With February having 29 days. This was called the Gregorian calendar and is in use all over the world, even today.

            The second calendar in use is the lunar calendar, which is based on time taken by the moon to complete one revolution around the earth, which is 29 ½ days. The lunar year consists of 354 days (29 ½ *12), which s less than the solar year by 11 days, and this makes a difference of 33 days every three years. This difference is resolved by having 13 months after every three lunar years.

            This additional one month is called Malmas in Hindi. To make up of the days of month, the actual numbering of the lunar days is advance or deferred for the necessary adjustment. On March 22, 1357, the government of India
introduced the shaka calendar based on the lunar system as the official calendar. The Shaka era is behind the Christian era by 78 years.

            In addition to these two calendars, some countries have other kinds of calendars also, which are used for the religious and other requirements of those countries.

            You have already read that while making the calendar, the 365 days of a normal year were divided into 12 months. These months have been named as January, February, March, April, May, June, July, august, September, October, November, and December. Do you know how they got these names? January is the first month of the year. Its name originated from Janus, the name of roman god. The roman thinks that this god has two faces- one for looking into the past and the other into the future.

            February is named after the roman festival februo.

            Mars was the roman god of war. March is named after him.

            April is probably derived form the Latin word aperire, which means to open. Since the spring season falls in this month and there is blossoming in trees and plants, this month has bee named April.

            The word may is derived from the roman goddess Maia’s name.

            The origin of June is not definitely known but probably this has been derived from the name of juno- the Queen of Heavens.

            July is named after Julius Caesar, who was born in this month. He was the first man who made significant contributions to the development of the modern calendar.

            August is named after Augustus Caesar of Rome, who had won many battles in this month.

            September finds its origin in the Latin word septem meaning seventh. This was the seventh month in the old Roman calendar.

            October comes form the roman word octo meaning eight. In the old Roman calendar, this was the eighth month.

            November originates from the Latin word novem meaning nine. This was the ninth month in the old Roman calendar.

            December is derived from the Latin word decem meaning tenth. This was the tenth month in the old Roman calendar.

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