What year is it now? The question is not as simple as it may sound. Everything is relative. People created calendars to measure the course of time. But time is ephemeral, it can’t be caught, and a countdown point can’t be marked. That’s where the complexity starts. How to find the beginning? Where to count from? And with what steps?
Today WeGoRo will tell you about different calendars. Many more calendars exist today and have existed through the years, but even these are enough to feel all the relativeness and ephemerality of time.
Most countries in the world live according to the Gregorian calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in place of the Julian calendar. The difference between these 2 calendars today is 13 days, and it increases by 3 days every 400 years. That’s why there is such a holiday as Old New Year: it’s New Year according to the Julian calendar, and some countries still celebrate it. However, nobody neglects "regular" New Year.
The Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 in Catholic countries, and it was gradually distributed to other countries. According to it, on January 1, the year 2018 will begin.
In Thailand, 2018 will be the year 2561 (according to the Gregorian calendar). Officially, Thailand lives according to the Buddhist lunar calendar, in which chronology starts from the moment Buddha achieved nirvana.
However, they use the Gregorian calendar as well. Exceptions are often made for foreigners, and the dates on goods and documents are written according to this calendar. The Buddhist calendar is also used in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.
The Ethiopian calendar is 8 years behind the "regular" one. Moreover, it has 13 months in a year. 12 months have 30 days, and the last one is very short, just 5 or 6 days depending on whether it is a leap year or not. Also, their day starts not at midnight but at sunrise. The Ethiopian calendar is based on the ancient calendar of Alexandria.
The Hebrew calendar is officially used in Israel together with the Gregorian. All Hebrew holidays, days of memory, and birthdays of relatives are celebrated according to the first one. Months start with the new moon, and the first day of the year (Rosh Hashanah) can be only on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Hence, to make it all work, the previous year is extended for one day.
The Hebrew calendar takes its chronology from the very first new moon that took place on October 7, 3761 BC, at 5 o’clock and 204 parts. One hour in the Hebrew calendar consists of 1,080 parts, and each of them is 76 moments.
The Islamic calendar is used for determining the dates of religious holidays and as an official calendar in some Muslim countries. The chronology starts from Hijra, the date of Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslims’ emigration to Medina (622 AD).
The day here starts at sunset, not at midnight. The beginning of a month is the day when the crescent moon first appears after the new moon. The length of a year in the Islamic calendar is 10-11 days less than the solar year, and months move in relation to seasons. Those months that were in summer will take place in winter after some time and vice versa.
The Persian calendar, or the Solar Hijri calendar, is the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan. This astronomical solar calendar was created by a group of astronomers including the well-known poet Omar Khayyam.
The chronology starts from hijra just like the Islamic calendar, but it is also based on a solar year, which is why the months stay in the same seasons. Weeks start on Saturdays and finish on Fridays, and the latter are always non-work days.
The unified national Calendar of India was created not so long ago and introduced in 1957. It is based on the calculations of the Saka Era, the ancient system of chronology that is widespread in India and Cambodia.
There are also other calendars in India used by different nations and tribes. Some start the chronology from Krishna’s death date (3102 BC); others date it from Vikram’s rise to power in the year 57; a third group, according to the Buddhist calendar, start the chronology from Gautam Buddha’s date of death (543 AD).
In Japan, there are 2 existing chronologies: one that starts with Christ’s birth and the traditional one. The latter is based on the years of the Japanese emperors’ reigns. Every emperor gives his period a name: the motto of his reign.
Starting from the year 1989, there has been "an era of peace and tranquility," and the throne belongs to Emperor Akihito. The previous era — Enlightened World — lasted for 64 years. In most official documents, 2 dates are used: one according to the Gregorian calendar and one according to the current era in Japan.
The Chinese calendar is used in Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. The chronology starts from the date Emperor Huangdi started his reign in 2637 BC.
The calendar is cyclic and is based on the astronomical cycles of Jupiter. Within 60 years, Jupiter goes around the Sun 5 times, and those are the 5 elements of the Chinese calendar. One circle of Jupiter around the Sun takes 12 years, and these years received their names from animals. 2018 (Gregorian) will be the Year of the Dog.
The Juche calendar has been used in North Korea since July 8, 1997, together with Christ’s birth chronology. The countdown date is 1912, the birth year of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea and the eternal president of the country. His year of birth is the year 1; there is no year 0 on this calendar.
When writing dates, both calendars are used. The Gregorian calendar year is written in parentheses next to the year according to the Juche calendar.
It’s not only dates that we measure differently — people’s ages are also complicated. In many cultures of Eastern Asia, they are calculated according to East Asian age reckoning: the chronology starts from 1, not from 0. A newborn baby is 1 year old from birth. And his age increases with the coming of a new year, not with his birth date. Therefore, according to this system, all family members gathered at a New Year table become one year older with the ringing of the New Year clock. That’s why the age of an Asian person can be 2 years different from the age of a European person, even if they were born the same day.
Which fact surprised you the most? Share in the comments!
Preview photo credit leungchopan