How was our modern calendar created?
Have you ever wondered how our current calendar came into existence? Have you read the Bible and found the months different from the calendar hanging on your wall? Join me as we walk back in time to discover how our modern calendar came to be used.
Ancient civilizations measured time with a variety of calendars. While each was different, they primarily used a solar, lunar, or lunisolar approach.
The solar calendars are set based on the revolution of the earth around the sun. The Egyptians would be an example of an ancient civilization that used a solar calendar.
The lunar calendars measure time by the phases of the moon. The Sumerians used a lunar calendar.
With the lunisolar approach, the calendar is set to acknowledge both the phases of the moon and the solar year. The biblical calendar would be an example of a lunisolar calendar. The years are based on the solar year (1), but the months are based on the phases of the moon.
The Julian calendar was introduced by the Roman Empire in 46 BC when Julius Caesar ordered a new calendar to be developed that would better follow the solar year. This calendar is named for him. The Julian calendar is still in use by the Eastern Orthodox churches to set the holidays. This calendar was used for centuries before being replaced by the Gregorian calendar.
The Gregorian calendar, sometimes referred to as the Christian calendar, was introduced in 1582. Under Pope Gregory XIII, the Julian calendar was revised (2). Revisions included adding a leap year every fourth year and changing how the holiday of Easter is determined. Today, the Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world.
Gregorian days: The days of the week came from the Mesopotamian Empire and are related to celestial bodies. Our days are measured midnight to midnight. Weeks are seven days in length, beginning with Sunday. The names of the days came from the planets of Hellenistic astrology (see chart below). (3)
On the Gregorian calendar, months are named for Roman gods, officials, holidays, or related to Latin numbers. There are twelve months in the year (see chart below). (4)
Gregorian years: The years on this calendar are calculated in relation to the birth of Jesus. BC is for “before Christ” and AD is Latin for “in the year of our Lord.” The year begins on January 1 and ends on December 31.
When considering our calendar, it always brings me back to Genesis, when God established the beginning of time (Genesis 1:1).
Share one thing you write on your calendar each year.
1. Schmidt, John D., and Tatiana Proskouriakoff. “Calendar.” Encyclopædia Britannica. August 22, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/science/calendar/The-Western-calendar-and-calendar-reforms#ref59347.
3. “Names of the days of the week.” Wikipedia.org. December 14, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_days_of_the_week.
4. “Gregorian Calendar” Wikipedia.org. December 14, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar