Renumbering years for A.D.


There wasn’t any real renumbering to be done when the BC/AD system was introduced. For some mysterious reason, the idea of simply numbering years in order seems to have been a very difficult one for humans to accept. Although the Romans had the A.U.C. dates, they didn’t normally use them – they were about as common as the “In the nth year of the Independence of the United States” dating you occasionally see on legal documents. Romans normally dated things, “The year when so-and-so and so-and-so held the office of Consul” (even after the Emperors held all the power, Consuls continued to be elected on paper), and dark-age Europe normally dated things, “The nth year of King so-and-so’s reign,” or worse.

In the late BC period, a serially-numbered calendar based on the life of Alexander the Great was in use for a while, but it seems to have vanished under Roman influence. Other systems were also occasionally attempted, usually by some Greek scholar or other, including one that was picked up by the Jews, and continues in Jewish use to this day. But in general, the BC/AD system was the first serially-numbered one to be widely used.

Even after BC/AD was determined on, the question remained of just when the year began. Until 1752, in England, the year ended on December 31, but began on March 25, leaving everyone uncertain as to just what to do with the days between. It still drives historians crazy when working with original documents.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Any calendar reform should clearly start by putting the first of the year at a solstice or equinox. Then the year should be divided into 12 months of 30 days, with five holidays to fill out. (Six in leap years). The ten day week would give us exactly three weeks to the month, and we could rename the months to get rid of the imperialist Romans, and rename the days to get rid of the pagan Norse. THe hours of the day should be reworked, too, to allow more time for happy hours at the bars.

Dex, your scheme for redoing the calendar looks suspiciously like something I’ve seen in a certain well-known fantasy setting for a certain well-known roleplaying game.

As to getting rid of the Imperialist Romans and the pagan Norse, why do that? So we can replace it all with Imperialist American and decadent Western notions?

Sometimes it’s better to go along with tradition, even if that tradition doesn’t always make the most sense. The last time somebody tried an artificial reworking of a major feature of society was the creation of the Esperanto language. We all see how successful that was.

I don’t know about role-playing games, but Dex’s plan sounds a lot like the Jacobin’s calendar from 18th cent. France. They threw out the Roman names and replaced them with the French words for things like “planting time” and “harvest”. I think it may also have been created along with the metric system. Their plan also incorporated several “holidays” that didn’t belong to any particular month.

Yeah, PapaBear, I sort of had the French Revolutionary Calendar in mind. I dunno that much detail about role-playing games, Capn. The decimal calendar always amused me; plus replacing names like “August” or “Julius” with names like “Harvest” and “Spaghetti” seemed a step in the right direction.

The French Revolutionary Calendar, and how the dates would have fallen for the year 207, if anyone cares:

Vendémiaire (vintage) 207
23 September 1998 - 22 October 1998

Brumaire (foggy)
23 October 1998 - 21 November 1998

Frimaire (sleety)
22 November 1998 - 21 December 1998

Nivôse (snowy)
22 December 1998 - 20 January 1999

Pluviôse (rainy)
21 January 1999 - 19 February 1999

Ventôse (windy)
20 February 1999 - 21 March 1999

Germinal (seed)
22 March 1999 - 20 April 1999

Floréal (blossom)
21 April 1999 - 20 May 1999

Prairial (pasture)
21 May 1999 - 19 June 1999

Messidor (harvest)
20 June 1999 - 19 July 1999

Thermidor (heat)
20 July 1999 - 18 August 1999

Fructidor (fruit)
19 August 1999 - 17 September 1999

Sans-Cullotide I, Fete de la Virtu (Virtue)
18 September 1999

Sans-Cullotide II, Fete du Genie (Genius)
19 September 1999

Sans-Cullotide III, Fete du Travail (Labour)
20 September 1999

Sans-Cullotide IV, Fete de l’Opinion (Opinion)
21 September 1999

“This … was to be a sort of intellectual saturnalia, an opportunity for all citizens to say and write what they liked about any public man, without fear of the law of libel.” – A Decade of Revolution, 1789-1799 (1934)

Sans-Cullotide V, Fete des Recompenses (Reward)
22 September 1999
Each month had thirty days, divided into three “décades” with the tenth day being a day of rest analogous to the pre-revolutionary Sunday.

The leap year day was to be a sixth Sans-Cullottide, “Revolution”.


The world calendar is the possible solution -elegant, simple and with few drawbacks.

geopburdell posted:

One of the drawbacks (culled from the website) is:

Considering that these ‘religious groups’ are all of the world’s Christians, Jews, and Muslims, I’d say, yeah, it does have a drawback.

[To be more specific, the calendar would go Friday, Saturday, Worlday, Sunday at the end of each year (and occaisionally other places on leap years). To ‘religious groups’, Worlday is really Sunday, Sunday is really Monday, etc…]

If this is a solution for the world, it’s designed to cheese off the majority of the human populace.

Hey, if you want the calendar to always start on the same weekday, then wait until you have to add seven days to adjust it and add in a whole week. This makes more sense to me then having to keep adjusting it by a day every year.

Now, I know the proponents of the World Calendar will say, “Hey, we want our calendar to be perennial – we don’t want an adjustment of a week every six to eight years!”

My response is that the World Calendar is not perennial. It still does a leap year every four years (throwing off the yearly regularity) and will have to skip a leap year every hundred years and add a leap year every four hundred years, just like the current one. And that ain’t a regular perennial calendar by my definition of regular or perennial.


Stardate 99653.0

I say we adopt a “stardate” over this primitive calendar we now use.

Amusingly enough, I just read in Archaeology Magazine that the ancient Egyptians had a year made up of three seasons; each season had three months of 30 days each; and there were five “holidays” at the end of the year. This numbering system was in place (roughly) from 2500 to 500 BC.

It got off kilter, of course, for failure to adjust for leap years.

Let’s see, CK - three seasons of three months each of 30 days each plus 5 holidays - that’s 275 days in a year. They wouldn’t have had to wait for a leap year to get off kilter, unless their days had 32 (of our) hours.

So it was in place approx. 2667 years?

Stardate 99656.1

Ah, a fellow Georgia Tech person. Welcome, geopburdell!!

Would having the calendar be perennial really be an advantage? If you’re born on a MOnday, would you really want your birthday to always fall on a Monday, year after year? That sounds rather depressing to me.

There are times when all elements are aligned - the people are primed, the right idea has been sufficiently disseminated, a leader emerges (or sometimes it’s just the pope or the emperor who says, “Make it so”) - and history changes. Today is such a day. It is time for ALL right-thinking people to arise and throw off the ancient chains left on our souls by those bastards of history, the Babylonians. 60 minutes in an hour? 60 seconds in a minute? 360 degrees in a circle? TWENTY-FOUR hours in a day, for Baal’s sake? Remember: the number 60 and its related factors and products are your enemy!

Dex, you are the Anti-Christ.

Okay, maybe not. But “clearly be divided into 12 months?” Why, just because there were 12 Apostles. (Hey! Hey! We can get rid of the imperial Roman influence! Only problem: two months of James.)

But actually, what gives here? It seems that no one has given sufficient thought to returning to a “true” lunar calendar. (Oh, SURE. “The sun is more important.” “The sun gives us light and warmth.” “The sun is BIGGER.” …You people make me sick. You’d think the whole UNIVERSE revolves around the sun. Peh!) Or, the Chinese had a fortnightly planting and harvest(?) calendar with neat names like “The Insects Awaken.” That could work. (It could so too!)

BUT, if you want to chuck it all and make everything all scientifical, there’s really only one choice. It solves the Leap Year problem, it’s perennial: it’s The Great Sidereal Calendar! (No, not the Modern Khemetic Calendar , but a REAL sidereal calendar.)

I mean, sure, there are a few problems. “12am” is the middle of the night in winter and the middle of the day in summer; employers are going to want to pay you less (after all, the day IS four minutes shorter); but nothing we can’t fix if we put our minds to it. Unite, SDMBers! Are we Fighting Ignorance or not?! You have nothing to lose but…your entire mental algorithm for organizing your industrialized existence.

Oh Vey !

<— 3½¢

Actually, why not a lunar calendar. 13 months of 28 days is 364 days. Add a “New Year’s Day” belonging to no month and a “Leap Day” every 4 years (more or less).

“You can’t run away forever; but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” — Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson —
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb —


Your suggestion is simple to understand and logical to boot. What are you, on drugs? It would never fly.

To what event/s would you want to align your calendar? Start the month with a full or new moon? Would you keep New Years Day in the winter? Put the stolstaces and equinoxes in the middle, beginning, or end of their seasons?

Ranger Jeff
*The Idol of American Youth *

A 13-month calendar would be anathema to accountants, stock analysts, etc.. No quarters.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Yeah, no quarters for the accountants, plus a probably-LARGE number of superstitious types who could never adjust to a year based on the number 13, and one other teensy, weensy problem ( which is:

Now, far be it from me to insist on technical accuracy…well, okay, not TOO far…in fact, no, let me be one of the first to insist on technical accuracy…because if we’re going to have a “lunar” calendar, it seems we would want one that would never get TOO far off the moon’s phases - otherwise why call it “lunar?” And that means ‘leap weeks’ and/or ‘leap months,’ similar to what the Chinese had. (Ever notice that Chinese New Year is a different day every year? It IS based on the moon, not an edict that “the lunar calendar shall strictly follow a four-week periodicity.” And yes, they stick an extra month in every few years.)

So none of this is to say we have to stay “solar” - a lunar calendar might seem a bit arbitrary to our proposed future Mars colonists, but to hell with them, damn splitters! - but again I ask: why the old astrological basis at all? Let’s bring this into the 21st century/3rd millennium and go astronomical! We CAN do it!

Another benefit (or “benefit,” depending on your perspective) of the sidereal calendar: a single world-wide time zone! (If it works for China it can work for us, too!..) No more jet lag, no necessity to re-set your watch or calculate “local” time for those phone conferences…just think of the ease and savings! The mind boggles! (Literally.)