A case for alternative calendars

Ever wonder why our calendar can be so strange? Think about it: February gets an extra day every four years, the month names are inconsistent (October is the 10th month even though "octo" means 8), New Year’s Day is in the middle of winter, and all the months have different lengths ranging from 28 to 30 days. Why all of these inconsistencies?

This is the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was originally introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to replace the aging Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was slowly losing its sync with the seasons, which made the date of Easter drift farther into spring. To correct this, it was decided that February would have an extra day added every four years to keep the calendar in balance. To make sure the calendar was synced right with the seasons, 10 days had to be removed when it was first implemented. The period between Oct. 4, and Oct. 15, 1582 technically never existed. The calendar also kept the names of July and August as a way to memorialize the two famous Roman emperors.

As this calendar system is nearly 500 years old, it’s starting to show some glitches. Even the year numbering system is flawed. The calendar is supposed to count the years from the birth of Jesus Christ, but most historians have accepted that Christ’s actual birthdate is around seven to 10 years before the actual calendar era began. This means that the current year could actually be any year between 2007 and 2010. If there are so many issues with the current calendar, how come there is no solutions?

Recently, there has been a movement to create alternative calendars. Alternative calendars are new calendars that are created to replace the current system, and they can range from simple date changes to completely radical proposals. One of the more interesting calendars is the Ecliptic calendar, invented by Damon Scott in 2002. This calendar aims to use a purely astronomical way of marking dates. The months are named after the constellation seen during that part of the year and usually last between 29 and 32 days because of Earth’s movements. The year always begins on the first day of spring, and has 12 months. There is also a period of 29-30 years called a saturnia, which is based on the time it takes for Saturn to complete an orbit around the sun. Ages have 72-74 saturnia, making them 2,150 years long, and are given names. The current (or fourth) age of the calendar is the Age of Aquarius, which began in 1988. Finally, the calendar has cycles, which last 25,800 years. Today’s date in this calendar would be 2 Leo, April 2, 2001. The three numbers that mark the year are the age, saturnia, and year in that order.

If all of this seems too complicated to appreciate, then there is the Sexagesimal calendar, which was invented by Edouard Vitrant. The aim of the Sexagesimal calendar is to simplify the calendar to a point where it would be easy to comprehend. To do this, the calendar is based on the No. 6. The calendar has six months of 60 days, each with weeks of six days (Monday-Saturday), with the year having 360 days. The year begins on the winter solstice, Dec. 21, and year 1 is placed at 2012, as a symbolic reference to the end of the Mayan calendar. The six months are Frigée, Éclose, Florée, Granée, Récole and Caduce, all French words for the different seasons. The current date in this calendar would then be Saturday, Éclose 30, 5.

Calendars aren’t the only systems that are in need of reform. The current 24-hour clock system also is seen as something that should be replaced. New Earth Time is a proposal that intends on replacing 24 hours with 360 degrees. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes and the minutes are divided into 60 seconds. Each degree is equal to four minutes, and each hour is equal to 15 degrees. NET is also based on Greenwich Mean Time. This means that if it is 10:17 p.m. Eastern Standard, then it would be 34° 21’ NET. The goal of this system is to create a standard of time that is effective for use on the internet.

Will any of these new systems ever replace the Gregorian calendar? Realistically, no as this calendar is in use in most of the world for business. However, I still think that there should be alternatives to the current calendar. Having alternative calendars brings attention to the flaws our current calendar has, and offers solutions to these problems.


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