Did any cultures fight against the standardization of Christian calendaring?

I find it incredible that pretty much the entire world counts the years off a mythological hero’s birthday (and CE/BCE is just whitewashing the same).

By now there’s probably just too much traction to try to change it, but when this system first spread, was there significant opposition to it? Did anyone try to implement a global Muslim calendar? A Buddhist one? A geologic one?

And what about today? Do countries that ban religion (China, North Korea, etc.) ever try to use their own system, or at least consider the Christian years a despicable but necessary evil?

DPRK (North Korea) has its own calendar, but also recognizes the CE date.

See their (English) news at: http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm The JUCHE 103 is their own (I’m half-remembering it to have been started with the birth of the original Communist Dictator (Grandfather to current), who is treated as a god by the official line.

Jews and Muslims have their own calendars. Today is 7 Adar II, 5774 in the Hebrew calendar, and 7 Jumada Al-Awwal, 1435, in the Hijri (Muslim) calendar.

The Republic of China (aka Taiwan) uses the same calendar epoch (dated from the founding of the republic instead of the emperor’s era name). Japan still uses era names.

There was also the Soviet calendar which was used in the 1930s, though it used the same epoch as the Gregorian calendar.

Of course, you’re just talking about year numbers for Christian origin. The months are more of Roman thing; although the Gregorian fix to the leap year problem was resisted for a long time by the non-Catholic areas of Europe. (Devised in the 1500’s and finally adopted for example by Britain, IIRC, about 1720.) The names of the days and months are still pre-Christian mythological origins. If the church had no problem with Janus and Mars or Wodin’s day, why would the rest of the world worry about an arbitrary (to them) zero?

As with standard time, with the expansion of interactions across distance came the need to standardize on what was being said.

Vacations happen in Thermidor, IIRC.

Some Chinese still use the Lunar calendar, although it’s more important for social and religious reasons (marking of festivals, prayers, noting of birth and death time, auspicious times for marriage etc). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calendar

It essentially boils down to the fact that Western Europe and related states (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) have dominated the world stage in most things for a few hundred years now, and if someone wants to play ball with them, they have to be at least conversant with their calendar system.

In the days of the French Revolution, the revolutionary government established the French Republican Calendar from 1793 through 1805, deliberately designed as a rejection of the Christian calendar.

One of the months was called Brumaire, and le 18 Brumaire VIII (VIII being the year number) was a famous date (9 November 1799), in which Napoleon seized power and ended the Revolution.

The date was mentioned by Karl Marx in the title of his essay Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon, discussing the subsequent coup by Napoleon’s nephew Louis (actually on 2 December 1851). This essay was memorable for giving us the observation “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

So phrased differently does any country currently use a non-Gregorian calendar for governmental and everyday use?

It is my understanding that Saudi Arabia uses the Umm al-Qura calendar (the Muslim calendar based on astronomical calculations rather than observation of the crescent moon) administratively but also gives the Gregorian date.

Iran uses the Persian calendar for civil purposes. Interestingly the year zero was moved forward a millennia after the 1979 Revolution (from something to do with Cyrus the Great to the traditional Muslim year zero of Mohammad’s flight to Medina), meaning some living Iranians have to remember to subtract 1,000 or so years to their birth-dates to calculate their ages.

In India, there are several versions of the Hindu Calendar primarily developed BCE and then subsequently modified. Most religious festivals, weddings, etc. are scheduled using this calendar.


I see your point, but to me it is more of a concession to practicality than a whitewash.

BTW, in Israel one can legally date his checks with either the Jewish, Moslem or Christian calendars.

Does Outlook support any of the other calendars? Meeting requests are pretty important these days.

on a lark, I googled and am very pleasantly surprised to find that the answer is yes! http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/display-an-alternate-calendar-HA010166885.aspx