A Remix of World Calendars.
I got interested in calendars when I first heard about the Maya, and couldn’t understand what their cycles within cycles within cycles had to do with January to December, Saturday to Friday.
Having got a taste of two very different approaches to daykeeping, I took a look at what other peoples were doing, and had done, in hopes of organizing the days according to the Moon (or not) and the Year (or not). Such a great diversity, and so many are falling into disuse as the Gregorian Calendar and the seven-day week in particular roll over other daykeeping systems.
Research material was kept online at theAbysmal Calendar blog, which has since been deleted.
I believe that this is one of the fundamental reforms that we need to address that will take us forward into whatever the Information Age holds for us. Yuval Noah Harari provides a framework for us in his book Sapiens. He frames our belief systems as collective fictions, in that they are stories that we agree upon, and by which we coordinate ourselves on a large scale. These are big collective stories, like religion, or systems of government, or money, economy. Any system that exists beyond its physical representation. A coin, for example is pressed metal, but with the story of money and currency to go with it, you can now exchange it for something else, because we more or less accept the system to get through the day. It works so well we’ve been doing it for the past 70,000 years or so.
There is only one story we share, more or less, globally. It’s the story that starts with January 1st 1 C.E. and ends with December 31st, Saturday to Friday. It is a hodge-podge of symbols from various traditions, cobbled together over 3,000 years or so without any real attempts to fix its underlying problems. It has a broken rhythm. There’s not really any functional standard for dates: 11/10/09 – when is that supposed to be?
So, the calendar system I stumbled over and cobbled together at least has an underlying rhythm. The months are only numbered, so everyone can name them whatever they want. I think this opens up a lot of possibilities for creative storytelling. There is hardly a greater story to tell than the Story of the Year, or the Myth of the Seasons.
There will be more to come on this, without a doubt.
Year of the Sun
The image above began the whole thing. A 13-month calendar with the New Year Day set at the Southern Solstice (December 21st). Each month is a regular 28 days, which works out to 4 weeks. That’s already simpler.
[N.B. here a “week” means 7 days. This calendar has nothing to do with weekdays Saturday to Friday.]
Instead of naming the months, they’re numbered. Instead of numbering them 1, 2, 3 like other calendars do, they’re numbered 0, 1, 2, just like digital clocks. The same goes for any numbering on the calendar: Day 0, 1, 2; Month 0, 1, 2; Year 0, 1, 2.
Month of the Moon
A lunar month is a given, considering most calendars have some measure of the Moon’s caprices. The cycles of the Moon are complex, and a number of observations and calculations are necessary to create a regular calendar from it.
I thought that instead, seeing as the 13 months are pretty regular, why not let the Moon set the rhythm for the observational aspects of the calendar. The lunar months include such dates as Equinoxes, Solstices, Planetary cycles, recurring comets and meteor showers, and other events related to solar, lunar, and celestial timekeeping.
The year shown above is regular, repeats itself, and lends itself to organizing itself on smaller and larger scales (you can have a 2-day week, and groupings of 13, 20, 260, etc. years). The lunar months don’t lend themselves to regular cycles. The solution is to simply count them without repetition, as we do with calendar years. There are already two systems in place that count seconds and days this way.
This gives us a count of seconds, days, lunar months, and years, beginning with 0, and continuing on up to infinity. They can always be grouped by year, metonic period, or however you like.
Because the lunar months are numbered, it’s easier to translate to the lunar months of various lunar calendars. This includes those observed by Indigenous populations, as well as a good part of the Middle East (Jews & Muslims), as well as Asia (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese and others).
The Leap Year occurs 1 year in 4, with an exception 1 year in 128 where the Leap Year Day is skipped.
Friday, December 21st 2012 C.E. was New Year 0 of the world calendar.
In terms of themes, everything begins in darkness: the day begins at midnight, the month at the new moon, the year at the Northern Winter Solstice. The day on the earth begins at midnight at 180° longitude.