It is impossible for us humans to have in-depth knowledge of every single topic. We are often drawn into subjects that interest us. I suddenly developed a liking for the history of calendars even though earlier I wasn’t always quite enthused about this topic. Such was my knowledge about this subject that until February 2000, I wasn’t aware that years ending with “00” must be divisible by 400 for them to be known as leap years.
It was around 2015 when the topic of calendars became one of my major interests. Little did I realise that my painstaking research into my new-found interest would soon lead me to some fascinating revelations about the history of calendars.
The digital world and search engines made research much easier than what was possible in the past. I started reading about the history of different calendars and how they evolved over the centuries. While reading the history of The Gregorian Calendar, I learned how The Roman Calendar became The Gregorian Calendar after going through a few reforms. It also dawned upon me that the Eastern Orthodox Churches continue to use The Julian Calendar for ancient Christian festivals.
The more I researched, the more I became hooked onto this topic as I continued to stumble upon amazing facts related to the history of calendars. I got to know that many new calendars had been created as an alternative to the currently used Gregorian Calendar.
This heightened my interest in this field as I began to form my own observations on what may have led to the creation of these calendars. One was to bring the length of the year closer to the tropical year. The Revised Julian Calendar was based on this thought and it was significantly better than The Gregorian Calendar. The purpose of creating The Gregorian Calendar was to keep the equinoxes in their places. If the new calendar serves this purpose better than The Gregorian Calendar, then it makes sense to switch to The Revised Julian Calendar.
However, some scientists thought differently as they wanted to create calendars that would link the month dates to the weekdays. This would simplify our lives. If the weekdays are linked to the month dates, then year after year, we will see the same weekday on our birthdays, as currently, we celebrate birthdates and not birthdays. The other benefit of these calendars would be that the same calendar would repeat itself every year.
Several calendars were created based on this rationale and one even made it to the United Nations in the middle of the 20th century. This calendar was called The World Calendar. However, it was rejected on the basis that it had blank days and irregular weeks.
We have 52 weeks in a year and 7 days in a week. When we multiply 52 by 7, we get 364 days. If a year was only 364 days, then the weekdays would automatically link to the month dates. However, since the year is not exactly 364 days, the time above the 364 days throws everything off. To address this issue, these calendars kept the 365th day and the leap day out of the weekdays and the month dates.
These days were called the year day and the leap day. The year day was placed between the months of December and January. It had no date, nor the name of a weekday. In the leap years, the leap day was placed between the months of June and July. Through this method, these calendars linked the weekdays to the month dates. However, the year day and the leap day were viewed as blank days and considered to be creating irregular weeks.
The calendars based on the other method did not have any blank days or irregular weeks. Their years were only 364 days in length. When the leftover time became equivalent to a week, these calendars inserted a leap week. This resolved both issues but created another problem. The time above 364 days becomes equivalent to a full week after about 5.6352 years. Since this is neither five years nor six, it leads to a complicated leap year pattern. The complicated patterns make it tough to know which years were leap years as time passes. It is probably due to this reason that these calendars were also not accepted.
This made me wonder if it is even possible to have a calendar that would link the weekdays to the month dates without having blank days and a complicated leap year pattern? Further, would it be possible to improve the year length through the same calendar? My initial thoughts were negative, but I wasn’t prepared to give up yet. Therefore, I decided to take a shot at it.
The surprising fact was that it seems as if this calendar wanted to be created. It gave me no hurdles whatsoever and I was done within about 10 minutes. The weekdays were linked to the month dates and it had no blank days or irregular weeks. It also had a very simple leap year pattern. As per the year length, this calendar was way better than The Gregorian Calendar. I named it The Unified Calendar and sent for the copyright.
The question now was; where do I go from here? Do I just pat myself on the back and say, ‘good job, now your name is included in the list of the ones that created calendars?’ But this is unlike me since I’ve not been a fame seeker.
The other option was to walk the path of the previous calendar makers. That being the pursuit of replacing The Gregorian Calendar with my calendar. Although this path does not seem to be a walk in the park, but miracles are possible. Why would people not want to have 42 extra days off every year, as this calendar provides this option?
However, I decided to embark on a different path. I decided to expand my original paper and created a short book titled The War of Calendars. One of the objectives of this book was to pass on my knowledge to the current and future generations.
In this book, I talk about different calendars, their systems, and provide the history of The Gregorian Calendar. I also extensively dwell upon other calendars that were introduced to replace The Gregorian Calendar. In the third chapter, I introduce The Unified Calendar before arriving at my conclusion in the subsequent chapter.
The purpose is to educate the public on this issue. I have explained several key findings that only experts in the field may have been aware of. It might not be incorrect to say that upon reading this book, the readers would become somewhat experts in this field. I’ve made every effort to write this book in an engaging manner primarily to ensure that my readers think as if they are reading a novel.
As for switching from The Gregorian Calendar to The Unified Calendar, I will leave that to the collective wisdom of current and future generations. They should be free to opt for The Unified Calendar if they feel this would simplify lives. Otherwise, life will continue as if this calendar and the other calendars of the same thought never came into existence.
(Gurcharan Singh Sekhon, who originally hails from Chhapar village in Ludhiana, is a researcher and historian in British Columbia in Canada. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org )