Since the discovery and the use of calendar as an aid to historical records the world has journeyed through various stages of reckoning events through time and space.
One of the earliest calendars which have helped in piloting human history through the millennia is the Chinese calendar which is supposed to have begun in 2379 B.C. In this Calendar, years are reckoned in cycles of 60, each year having a particular name that is a combination of two characters derived schematically from two series of signs, the celestial and the terrestrial. Months are also reckoned in cycles of 60 that are renewed every five years and each month consists of 28 to 30 days.
There is also the Jewish calendar used by the Hebrews which engaged in the reckoning of time from the year of creation as based on a periodic cycle of 19 years with the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th year of each cycle designated leap years.
This is followed by the Hindu calendar which began in about 400 CE. It is Lunar-solar in nature and the Hindus believe so much in it even till date. In this calendar, the solar year is divided into 12 months in accordance with the successive entrances of the sun into the signs of the Zodiac, the months varying from 29 to 32 days.
Another calendar is the one called Roman calendar which is an ancient lunar calendar designating the days of the new moon as the ‘calends’ and the days of the full moon as the ‘ides’ while the 19th day before the ‘ides’ are designated as the ‘nones’. The original Roman calendar, introduced about the 7th century BC had 10 months with 304 days in a year that began with March. Two more months, January and February, were added later in the 7th century BC but because the months were only 29 or 30 days long, an extra month had to be intercalated approximately every second year. Thus, the days of the month were designated by the awkward method of counting backward from three dates: the calends, or first of the month; the ides, or middle of the month, falling on the 13th of some months and the 15th of others; and the nones, or 9th day before the ides. This rendered the Roman calendar hopelessly confused especially when officials to whom the addition of days and months was entrusted abused their authority to prolong their terms of office or to hasten or delay elections.
Pagan origin of Roman calendar
Most of the months in the Roman calendar were dedicated to various gods of the Romans. The calendar, though got the blessing of the Christian leadership and was refined by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 CE, as polytheistic token.
The origins of English naming used by the Gregorian calendar from Roman idol gods:
· January: Janus (Roman god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings)
· February: Februus (Etruscan god of death) Februarius (mensis) (Latin for "month of purification (rituals)" it is said to be a Sabine word, the last month of ancient pre-450 BC Roman calendar). It is related to fever.
· March: Mars (Roman god of war)
· April: "Modern scholars associate the name with an ancient root meaning 'other', i.e. the second month of a year beginning in March."
· May: Maia Maiestas (Roman goddess of springtime, warmth, and increase)
· June: Juno (Roman goddess, wife of Jupiter)
· July: Julius Caesar (Roman dictator) (month was formerly named Quintilis, the fifth month of the calendar of Romulus)
· August: Augustus (first Roman emperor) (month was formerly named Sextilis, the sixth month of Romulus)
· September: septem (Latin for seven, the seventh month of Romulus)
· October: octo (Latin for eight, the eighth month of Romulus)
· November: novem (Latin for nine, the ninth month of Romulus)
· December: decem (Latin for ten, the tenth month of Romulus)
The Julian calendar
Also in 45 BC, Julius Caesar decided to use purely solar calendar on the advice of Sosigenes who flourished in the 1st century. This calendar, known as the Julian calendar, fixed the normal year at 365 days, and the leap year, every fourth year, at 366 days. Leap year is so named because the extra day causes any date after February in a leap year to “leap” over one day in the week and to occur two days later in the week than it did in the previous year, rather than just one day later as in a normal year. The Julian calendar also established the order of the months and the days of the week as they exist in present-day calendars. In 44 BC, Julius Caesar changed the name of the month Quintilis to Julius (July), after himself. The month Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) in honour of the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, who succeeded Julius Caesar. However, some authorities maintain that Augustus established the length of the months we use today. The Gregorian calendar which puts January as the first month of the year was adopted by England and America in 1752. It is the calendar now commonly used throughout most parts of the world.
Yet, there are other known calendars which include the Roman ecclesiastical calendar used by the Catholic sect, the French revolutionary calendar introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1793, the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 CE.
But by far the most authentic of them all is Islamic Hijrah calendar because of its uniqueness and eventfulness as authenticated by its clear historical background….…to be concluded next week
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Fraser, Julius Thomas (1987), Time, the Familiar Stranger (illustrated ed.), Amherst: Univ of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 0-87023-576-1, OCLC 15790499
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William Matthew O'Neil, Time and the Calendars, Sydney University Press, 1975