A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is also a physical record (often paper) of such a system. A calendar can also mean a list of planned events, such as a court calendar or a partly or fully chronological list of documents, such as a calendar of wills.
Periods in a calendar (such as years and months) are usually, though not necessarily, synchronized with the cycle of the sun or the moon. The most common type of pre-modern calendar was the lunisolar calendar, a lunar calendar that occasionally adds one intercalary month to remain synchronized with the solar year over the long term.
The term calendar is taken from calendae , the term for the first day of the month in the Roman calendar, related to the verb calare "to call out", referring to the "calling" of the new moon when it was first seen.Latin calendarium meant "account book, register" (as accounts were settled and debts were collected on the calends of each month). The Latin term was adopted in Old French as calendier and from there in Middle English as calender by the 13th century (the spelling calendar is early modern).
The course of the sun and the moon are the most salient natural, regularly recurring events useful for timekeeping, thus in pre-modern societies worldwide lunation and the year were most commonly used as time units. Nevertheless, the Roman calendar contained remnants of a very ancient pre-Etruscan 10-month solar year.The first recorded physical calendars, dependent on the development of writing in the Ancient Near East, are the Bronze Age Egyptian and Sumerian calendars.
The Vedic India developed a sophisticated time keeping methodology and calendars for Vedic rituals.
A large number of Ancient Near East calendar systems based on the Babylonian calendar date from the Iron Age, among them the calendar system of the Persian Empire, which in turn gave rise to the Zoroastrian calendar and the Hebrew calendar. [ citation needed ]
A great number of Hellenic calendars developed in Classical Greece, and in the Hellenistic period gave rise to both the ancient Roman calendar and to various Hindu calendars.According to Yukio Ohashi, Vedanga field developed from actual astronomical studies in ancient Vedic Period and not derived from other cultures.
Calendars in antiquity were lunisolar, depending on the introduction of intercalary months to align the solar and the lunar years. This was mostly based on observation, but there may have been early attempts to model the pattern of intercalation algorithmically, as evidenced in the fragmentary 2nd-century Coligny calendar.
The Roman calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.The Julian calendar was no longer dependent on the observation of the new moon but simply followed an algorithm of introducing a leap day every four years. This created a dissociation of the calendar month from the lunation.
The Islamic calendar is based on the prohibition of intercalation ( nasi' ) by Muhammad, in Islamic tradition dated to a sermon held on 9 Dhu al-Hijjah AH 10 (Julian date: 6 March 632). This resulted in an observation-based lunar calendar that shifts relative to the seasons of the solar year.
The first calendar reform of the early modern era was the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582 based on the observation of a long-term shift between the Julian calendar and the solar year.
There have been several modern proposals for reform of the calendar, such as the World Calendar, International Fixed Calendar, Holocene calendar, and, recently, the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar. Such ideas are mooted from time to time but have failed to gain traction because of the loss of continuity, massive upheaval in implementation, and religious objections.
A full calendar system has a different calendar date for every day. Thus the week cycle is by itself not a full calendar system; neither is a system to name the days within a year without a system for identifying the years.
The simplest calendar system just counts time periods from a reference date. This applies for the Julian day or Unix Time. Virtually the only possible variation is using a different reference date, in particular, one less distant in the past to make the numbers smaller. Computations in these systems are just a matter of addition and subtraction.
Other calendars have one (or multiple) larger units of time.
Calendars that contain one level of cycles:
Calendars with two levels of cycles:
Cycles can be synchronized with periodic phenomena:
Very commonly a calendar includes more than one type of cycle or has both cyclic and non-cyclic elements.
Most calendars incorporate more complex cycles. For example, the vast majority of them track years, months, weeks and days. The seven-day week is practically universal, though its use varies. It has run uninterrupted for millennia.
Solar calendars assign a date to each solar day. A day may consist of the period between sunrise and sunset, with a following period of night, or it may be a period between successive events such as two sunsets. The length of the interval between two such successive events may be allowed to vary slightly during the year, or it may be averaged into a mean solar day. Other types of calendar may also use a solar day.
Not all calendars use the solar year as a unit. A lunar calendar is one in which days are numbered within each lunar phase cycle. Because the length of the lunar month is not an even fraction of the length of the tropical year, a purely lunar calendar quickly drifts against the seasons, which do not vary much near the equator. It does, however, stay constant with respect to other phenomena, notably tides. An example is the Islamic calendar. Alexander Marshack, in a controversial reading,believed that marks on a bone baton (c. 25,000 BC) represented a lunar calendar. Other marked bones may also represent lunar calendars. Similarly, Michael Rappenglueck believes that marks on a 15,000-year-old cave painting represent a lunar calendar.
A lunisolar calendar is a lunar calendar that compensates by adding an extra month as needed to realign the months with the seasons. Prominent examples of lunisolar calendar are Hindu calendar and Buddhist calendar that are popular in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Another example is the Hebrew calendar which uses a 19-year cycle.
Nearly all calendar systems group consecutive days into "months" and also into "years". In a solar calendar a year approximates Earth's tropical year (that is, the time it takes for a complete cycle of seasons), traditionally used to facilitate the planning of agricultural activities. In a lunar calendar, the month approximates the cycle of the moon phase. Consecutive days may be grouped into other periods such as the week.
Because the number of days in the tropical year is not a whole number, a solar calendar must have a different number of days in different years. This may be handled, for example, by adding an extra day in leap years. The same applies to months in a lunar calendar and also the number of months in a year in a lunisolar calendar. This is generally known as intercalation. Even if a calendar is solar, but not lunar, the year cannot be divided entirely into months that never vary in length.
Cultures may define other units of time, such as the week, for the purpose of scheduling regular activities that do not easily coincide with months or years. Many cultures use different baselines for their calendars' starting years. Historically, several countries have based their calendars on regnal years, a calendar based on the reign of their current sovereign. For example, the year 2006 in Japan is year 18 Heisei, with Heisei being the era name of Emperor Akihito.
An astronomical calendar is based on ongoing observation; examples are the religious Islamic calendar and the old religious Jewish calendar in the time of the Second Temple. Such a calendar is also referred to as an observation-based calendar. The advantage of such a calendar is that it is perfectly and perpetually accurate. The disadvantage is that working out when a particular date would occur is difficult.
An arithmetic calendar is one that is based on a strict set of rules; an example is the current Jewish calendar. Such a calendar is also referred to as a rule-based calendar. The advantage of such a calendar is the ease of calculating when a particular date occurs. The disadvantage is imperfect accuracy. Furthermore, even if the calendar is very accurate, its accuracy diminishes slowly over time, owing to changes in Earth's rotation. This limits the lifetime of an accurate arithmetic calendar to a few thousand years. After then, the rules would need to be modified from observations made since the invention of the calendar.
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Calendars may be either complete or incomplete. Complete calendars provide a way of naming each consecutive day, while incomplete calendars do not. The early Roman calendar, which had no way of designating the days of the winter months other than to lump them together as "winter", is an example of an incomplete calendar, while the Gregorian calendar is an example of a complete calendar.
The primary practical use of a calendar is to identify days: to be informed about or to agree on a future event and to record an event that has happened. Days may be significant for agricultural, civil, religious, or social reasons. For example, a calendar provides a way to determine when to start planting or harvesting, which days are religious or civil holidays, which days mark the beginning and end of business accounting periods, and which days have legal significance, such as the day taxes are due or a contract expires. Also, a calendar may, by identifying a day, provide other useful information about the day such as its season.
Calendars are also used to help people manage their personal schedules, time, and activities, particularly when individuals have numerous work, school, and family commitments. People frequently use multiple systems and may keep both a business and family calendar to help prevent them from overcommitting their time.
Calendars are also used as part of a complete timekeeping system: date and time of day together specify a moment in time. In the modern world, timekeepers can show time, date, and weekday. Some may also show the lunar phase.
The Gregorian calendar is the de facto international standard and is used almost everywhere in the world for civil purposes. The widely used solar aspect is a cycle of leap days in a 400-year cycle designed to keep the duration of the year aligned with the solar year.There is a lunar aspect which approximates the position of the moon during the year, and is used in the calculation of the date of Easter.
Each Gregorian year has either 365 or 366 days (the leap day being inserted as 29 February), amounting to an average Gregorian year of 365.2425 days (compared to a solar year of 365.2422 days).It was introduced in 1582 as a refinement to the Julian calendar which had been in use throughout the European Middle Ages, amounting to a 0.002% correction in the length of the year.
During the Early Modern period, however, its adoption was mostly limited to Roman Catholic nations, but by the 19th century, it became widely adopted worldwide for the sake of convenience in international trade. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece, in 1923.
The calendar epoch used by the Gregorian calendar is inherited from the medieval convention established by Dionysius Exiguus and associated with the Julian calendar. The year number is variously given as AD (for Anno Domini ) or CE (for Common Era or Christian Era).
The most important use of pre-modern calendars is keeping track of the liturgical year and the observation of religious feast days.
While the Gregorian calendar is itself historically motivated to the calculation of the Easter date, it is now in worldwide secular use as the de facto standard. Alongside the use of the Gregorian calendar for secular matters, there remain several calendars in use for religious purposes.
Eastern Christians, including the Orthodox Church, use the Julian calendar.
The Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in most of the Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar) and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic holy days and festivals. Its epoch is the Hijra (corresponding to AD 622) With an annual drift of 11 or 12 days, the seasonal relation is repeated approximately every 33 Islamic years.
Various Hindu calendars remain in use in the Indian subcontinent, including the Nepali calendars, Bengali calendar, Malayalam calendar, Tamil calendar, Vikrama Samvat used in Northern India, and Shalivahana calendar in the Deccan states.
The Buddhist calendar and the traditional lunisolar calendars of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also based on an older version of the Hindu calendar.
Most of the Hindu calendars are inherited from a system first enunciated in Vedanga Jyotisha of Lagadha, standardized in the Sūrya Siddhānta and subsequently reformed by astronomers such as Āryabhaṭa (AD 499), Varāhamihira (6th century) and Bhāskara II (12th century).
The Hebrew calendar is used by Jews worldwide for religious and cultural affairs, also influences civil matters in Israel (such as national holidays) and can be used business dealings (such as for the dating of cheques).
Followers of the Baháʼí Faith use the Baháʼí calendar. The Baháʼí Calendar, also known as the Badi Calendar was first established by the Bab in the Kitab-i-Asma. The Baháʼí Calendar is also purely a solar calendar and comprises 19 months each having nineteen days.
The Chinese, Hebrew, Hindu, and Julian calendars are widely used for religious and social purposes.
The Iranian (Persian) calendar is used in Iran and some parts of Afghanistan. The Assyrian calendar is in use by the members of the Assyrian community in the Middle East (mainly Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran) and the diaspora. The first year of the calendar is exactly 4750 years prior to the start of the Gregorian calendar. The Ethiopian calendar or Ethiopic calendar is the principal calendar used in Ethiopia and Eritrea, with the Oromo calendar also in use in some areas. In neighboring Somalia, the Somali calendar co-exists alongside the Gregorian and Islamic calendars. In Thailand, where the Thai solar calendar is used, the months and days have adopted the western standard, although the years are still based on the traditional Buddhist calendar.
A fiscal calendar generally means the accounting year of a government or a business. It is used for budgeting, keeping accounts, and taxation. It is a set of 12 months that may start at any date in a year. The US government's fiscal year starts on 1 October and ends on 30 September. The government of India's fiscal year starts on 1 April and ends on 31 March. Small traditional businesses in India start the fiscal year on Diwali festival and end the day before the next year's Diwali festival.
In accounting (and particularly accounting software), a fiscal calendar (such as a 4/4/5 calendar) fixes each month at a specific number of weeks to facilitate comparisons from month to month and year to year. January always has exactly 4 weeks (Sunday through Saturday), February has 4 weeks, March has 5 weeks, etc. Note that this calendar will normally need to add a 53rd week to every 5th or 6th year, which might be added to December or might not be, depending on how the organization uses those dates. There exists an international standard way to do this (the ISO week). The ISO week starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday. Week 1 is always the week that contains 4 January in the Gregorian calendar.
The term calendar applies not only to a given scheme of timekeeping but also to a specific record or device displaying such a scheme, for example, an appointment book in the form of a pocket calendar (or personal organizer), desktop calendar, a wall calendar, etc.
In a paper calendar, one or two sheets can show a single day, a week, a month, or a year. If a sheet is for a single day, it easily shows the date and the weekday. If a sheet is for multiple days it shows a conversion table to convert from weekday to date and back. With a special pointing device, or by crossing out past days, it may indicate the current date and weekday. This is the most common usage of the word.
In the US Sunday is considered the first day of the week and so appears on the far left and Saturday the last day of the week appearing on the far right. In Britain, the weekend may appear at the end of the week so the first day is Monday and the last day is Sunday. The US calendar display is also used in Britain.
It is common to display the Gregorian calendar in separate monthly grids of seven columns (from Monday to Sunday, or Sunday to Saturday depending on which day is considered to start the week – this varies according to country) and five to six rows (or rarely, four rows when the month of February contains 28 days in common years beginning on the first day of the week), with the day of the month numbered in each cell, beginning with 1. The sixth row is sometimes eliminated by marking 23/30 and 24/31 together as necessary.
When working with weeks rather than months, a continuous format is sometimes more convenient, where no blank cells are inserted to ensure that the first day of a new month begins on a fresh row.
Calendaring software provides users with an electronic version of a calendar, and may additionally provide an appointment book, address book, or contact list. Calendaring is a standard feature of many PDAs, EDAs, and smartphones. The software may be a local package designed for individual use (e.g., Lightning extension for Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook without Exchange Server, or Windows Calendar) or maybe a networked package that allows for the sharing of information between users (e.g., Mozilla Sunbird, Windows Live Calendar, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Outlook with Exchange Server).
The Hijri calendar, also known as the Lunar Hijri calendar and as the Islamic, Muslim or Arabic calendar, is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the Hajj. In almost all countries where the predominant religion is Islam, the civil calendar is the Gregorian calendar, with Syriac month-names used in the Levant and Mesopotamia. Notable exceptions to this rule are Iran and Afghanistan, which use the Solar Hijri calendar. Rents, wages and similar regular commitments are generally paid by the civil calendar.
Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.
A leap year is a calendar year that contains an additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year or seasonal year. Because astronomical events and seasons do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have a constant number of days in each year will unavoidably drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track, such as seasons. By inserting an additional day or month into some years, the drift between a civilization's dating system and the physical properties of the solar system can be corrected. A year that is not a leap year is a common year.
A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases, in contrast to solar calendars, whose annual cycles are based only directly on the solar year. The most commonly used calendar, the Gregorian calendar, is a solar calendar system that originally evolved out of a lunar calendar system. A purely lunar calendar is also distinguished from a lunisolar calendar, whose lunar months are brought into alignment with the solar year through some process of intercalation. The details of when months begin varies from calendar to calendar, with some using new, full, or crescent moons and others employing detailed calculations.
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the Moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year, then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year, then the calendar will predict the constellation near which the full moon may occur. As with all calendars which divide the year into months there is an additional requirement that the year have a whole number of months. In this case ordinary years consist of twelve months but every second or third year is an embolismic year, which adds a thirteenth intercalary, embolismic, or leap month.
A month is a unit of time, used with calendars, that is approximately as long as a natural orbital period of the Moon; the words month and Moon are cognates. The traditional concept arose with the cycle of Moon phases; such lunar months ("lunations") are synodic months and last approximately 29.53 days. From excavated tally sticks, researchers have deduced that people counted days in relation to the Moon's phases as early as the Paleolithic age. Synodic months, based on the Moon's orbital period with respect to the Earth-Sun line, are still the basis of many calendars today, and are used to divide the year.
The Metonic cycle or enneadecaeteris is a period of approximately 19 years after which the phases of the moon recur at the same time of the year. The recurrence is not perfect, and by precise observation the Metonic cycle defined as 235 synodic lunar months is just 1 hour, 27 minutes and 33 seconds longer than 19 tropical years. Meton of Athens, in the 5th century BC, judged the cycle to be a whole number of days, 6,940. Using these whole numbers facilitates the construction of a luni-solar calendar.
The Julian day is the continuous count of days since the beginning of the Julian period, and is used primarily by astronomers, and in software for easily calculating elapsed days between two events.
In chronology and periodization, an epoch or reference epoch is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era. The "epoch" serves as a reference point from which time is measured.
A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the season or almost equivalently the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars. The Gregorian calendar, widely accepted as a standard in the world, is an example of a solar calendar. The main other type of calendar is a lunar calendar, whose months correspond to cycles of Moon phases. The months of the Gregorian calendar do not correspond to cycles of the Moon phase.
The Hindu calendar or Panchang or Panjika refers to a set of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and South-east Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping based on sidereal year for solar cycle and adjustment of lunar cycles in every three years, however also differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in the Deccan region of Southern India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in Nepal, North and Central regions of India – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Tamil Calendar and Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchangam (पञ्चाङ्ग), which is known also known as Panjika in Eastern India.
As a moveable feast, the date of Easter is determined in each year through a calculation known as computus. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after 21 March. Determining this date in advance requires a correlation between the lunar months and the solar year, while also accounting for the month, date, and weekday of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. The complexity of the algorithm arises because of the desire to associate the date of Easter with the date of the Jewish feast of Passover which, Christians believe, is when Jesus was crucified.
The history of calendars, that is, of people creating and using methods for keeping track of days and larger divisions of time, covers a practice with ancient roots.
Calendar reform or calendrical reform is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar design.
The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.
The Javanese calendar is the calendar of the Javanese people. It is used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and the Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays.
The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a minor modification of the Julian calendar, reducing the average year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, and adjusting for the drift in the 'tropical' or 'solar' year that the inaccuracy had caused during the intervening centuries.
A Small Mahzor is a 19-year cycle in the lunisolar calendar system used by the Jewish people. It is similar to, but slightly different in usage with, the Greek Metonic cycle.
The adoption of the Gregorian Calendar was an event in the modern history of most cultures and societies, marking a change from their traditional dating system to the modern dating system that is widely used around the world today. Some states adopted the new calendar from 1582, some did not do so before the early twentieth century, and others did so at various dates between; however a number continue to use a different civil calendar. For many the new style calendar is only used for civil purposes and the old style calendar remains used in religious contexts. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world's most widely used civil calendar. During – and for some time after – the change between systems, it has been common to use the terms Old Style and New Style when giving dates, to indicate which calendar was used to reckon them.
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