Curious History : Historical Calendars

A very curious fact I recently discovered was that in the 1700’s the entire population of England went to bed one night and nobody woke up for almost 12 whole days!  How was this possible?  The answer is actually far more simple than even I originally thought.  You see, throughout history people have been trying to agree on…well, everything.  Science, religion, morality…these have all been tweaked and twisted to the point of frustration and we are still not perfect.  Did you know this includes calendars?

The Egyptians had two calendars, one for religious festivities and one for harvest.  Eventually, since they just let the quarter day for leap years accumulate, so their summers turned into winters and only once in over a thousand years would it correctly coincide with the lunar cycle.  Than there came the Julian calendar which was completely based on the lunar cycles.

You see, on that September night in 1752 Protestant England finally passed the British Calendar Act of 1751 that adopted the Gregorian calendar which most of Catholic Europe was using.  At the time, England was still using the Julian Calendar which was used since Julius Caesar (the one and only) invented it around 45 BC.  This lunar calendar was 11 behind the more recent Gregorian Calendar put into place during the 16th century.  Why was England using the Julian and not the Gregorian you ask?  Protestant vs Catholicism…that should be self explanatory.  Some Greek Orthodox still use the lunar calendar to this day!

Curiously, this gets even more complicated.

That is not the last time the calendar has been altered!  During the French Revolution, the liberating Parisians came up with their very own calendar to better show the victory of their Republic.  With Enlightenment on the rise, this complicated little calendar was based around the nostalgia of the Roman Republic.  This calendar had 12 months and three 10 day weeks.  An hour was calculated at 144 minutes and a minute was 86.4 seconds and special clocks were made in order to show this “decimal” time.  They even changed the names of the months to coincide with nature and replaced holidays to match epochs of the French Revolution!  This calendar was used for 12 years but since the French did not take lunar cycles into the account it was hard for the Revolution Calendar to keep accurate.  All that just to be different!

There are many calendars being used around the world today.  If your curiosity is peaked, perhaps you should explore there curious differences yourself.

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