Why Are There So Many Different Calendars?

On December 21st 2012, the world was supposed to end Many believed that the Mayan calendar would be ending, and so would all life on earth

Of course, most of us don’t use the ancient Mayan calendar, and the world didn’t end So we wanted to know, why are there so many different calendars? Well, nearly all calendars fall under three types: lunar, solar, and lunisolar There are actually dozens of different calendars, many of which build off each other and are incredibly similar The most widely recognized non-religious calendar in the Western World is the Gregorian calendar In 46 BC, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar instituted the Julian Calendar, which was almost identical to the one we use today

It had 12 months, and a year was defined as 36525 days A millenia and a half later in 1582, Pope Gregory the 13th introduced the Gregorian calendar, named after himself It tackled the problem of certain religious celebrations falling on a slightly different day every year It changed the rules surrounding leap years so that dates remained relatively consistent with the holidays

The Gregorian is solar-based, meaning that one year equals to one full rotation of the earth around the sun There are also lunar calendars, which measure months based on cycles of the moon This usually correlates as a new moon signifying a new month The most well known lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar, also called the Hi-jri calendar, named for a journey by the Prophet Muhammad in the year 622 The Hijri calendar marks this event as it's quote “year zero”, similar to the Christian system of AD and BC, setting the life of Jesus Christ as a neutral point

Additionally, because there are more than 12 lunar cycles in one solar cycle, the Hijri calendar is only 354 days long, and it is currently considered the year 1437 AH Finally, there are calendars which use both lunar and solar systems These are lunisolar, and are the best of both worlds, using the sun to mark the year, and moon cycles to mark the seasons Occasionally, to fix the discrepancy of the shorter lunar month, there is a thirteenth “leap month” added every two to three years The Chinese calendar is a famous example of a lunisolar calendar

Rather than mark years chronologically, the Chinese calendar names its years, with the first component denoting an element like metal, fire or earth, and the second an animal For example, 2016 is the Red Fire Monkey This type of calendar is also used by Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and a number of Asian countries There are a lot of ways to keep track of time, and luckily we’ve all mostly agreed on the Gregorian civil calendar So while the New Year may come on January first for any Solar or Lunisolar cultures, you’ll have to wait until October of 2016 if you’re following the purely lunar Hijri calendar

For a deeper look into the origins of the Gregorian Calendar, check out this video by DNews Thanks for checking us out! Be sure to subscribe to TestTube News for more videos

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