Our Calendar

God did not create the planets and stars with the intention that they dominate man, but that they, like other creatures, should obey and serve him. PARACELSUS (C.I 541)
Early man looked to the heavens and discovered that his world moved in an orderly manner. The moon had phases and the sun followed the same path through the sky from season to season. The Babylonians and Greeks tried to establish a calendar to measure time in accordance to the 29.53 day cycle of the moon. The word "moon" in English and its equivalent in other languages is rooted in the base me meaning measure. But the moon's cycle did not fit neatly into the solar year. Therefore a better method of measuring time was needed for knowing when to plant and harvest crops.
The Egyptians as early as 4200 B.C. devised a calendar based on the flooding of the Nile River. Their "nilometer" measured the water level in the river as it rose and fell from season to season. The temple priests found that 12 months of 30 days could provide a useful calendar if another 5 festival days were added. This became their "civil" year, or the "Nile year". The Egyptian calendar was so superior to all others that Julius Caesar decided to use it for his great Roman Empire. His Julian calendar with 365/4 days survived the Dark Ages and was still in use in the 16th Century even though it was longer than the solar year by about 11 minutes and 14 seconds. By the 1580's this small time difference had caused the solar equinox to be off by 11 calendar days.
It was Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 who adjusted the Julian calendar. His new "Gregorian" calendar set March 21st as the spring equinox and dropped February's extra day in each century year that could not be divided by 400. This produced our modern calendar that is off 26.3 seconds from the solar year. Simply because this reform had come from Rome, Protestant England and the American colonies stubbornly refused to go along with Pope Gregory. Not until 1752 were the Colonies persuaded to change to the Gregorian calendar. In so doing we do not celebrate George Washington's Birthday on February 11th, the date of his birth in 1732 (old style calendar), but rather 11 days later on the 22" . Other parts of the world never accepted the Gregorian reform. The Eastern Orthodox Church has kept the Julian calendar for its own calculation of Easter.
While the Christian world has shared the solar calendar, Islam continues to live by the cycles of the moon. The crescent, the sign of the new moon, appears on the flag of Muslim nations. The Muslim calendar year consists of 12 lunar months of alternately 29 and 30 days. This calendar of 355 days creates some interesting consequences. Ramadan, the month of fasting, may occur in summer or in winter. Also the pilgrimage to Mecca occurs ten or eleven days earlier each year. The inconveniences of this kind of calendar are simply another reminder of the Muslim's surrender to the dictates of Muhammad and to the Will of Allah.
Revolutionaries have frequently tried to remake the calendar, but their success has been short-lived. In 1792 the French produced their decimal calendar with a 10-day week; three weeks comprising a month. Their day was divided into 10 hours, each consisting of 100 minutes each, each minute of 100 shorter seconds. Thirteen years later Napoleon returned the Gregorian calendar to the French people and in so doing received the Vatican's blessing, hi 1929 the Soviet Union aiming to dissolve the Christian year, replaced the Gregorian with the Revolutionary calendar. Their week had 5 days, 4 for work, the fifth free, and each month consisting of six weeks. (72 weeks/year) By 1940 the Soviet Union had returned to the familiar Gregorian calendar.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar declared January 1st as the beginning of each new year