CALENDAR

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CALENDAR; the division of time into years, months, weeks and days; also a register of these divisions. Among the old Romans, for want of such a register, it was the custom for the pontifex maximus, on the first day of the month, to proclaim (calare) the month, with the festivals occurring in it, and the time of new moon. Hence calendce and calendar. The periodical occurrence of certain natural phenomena gave rise to the first division of time. The apparent daily revolution of the starry heavens and the sun about the earth occasioned the division into days. But, as the number of days became too great for convenience, some larger measure of time was found necessary. The changes of the moon, which were observed to recur every 29 or 30 days, suggested the division of time into months. After a considerable period, these also were found to multiply too much, and a still larger measure of time was wanted. Such a one was found in the apparent yearly revolution of the sun round the earth in the ecliptic. The time of this revolution, after several erroneous ealcAilations hereafter to be mentioned, 34* was finally determined to be a little more than 365 days. This was called a solar year, or, simply, a year, which was divided, according to the former measures of time, into months and days. Now, on account of the great influence of the sun's course in the ecliptic, and its consequent variations of distance from us upon the earth, and the affairs of its inhabitants in all countries, the attention of men would naturally be drawn to this phenomenon Hence it has happened that all nations, in any degree civilized, have adopted the year as the largest measure of time. It is probable that the Phoenicians first, then the Egyptians, and afterwards the Greeks, made use of this mode of reckoning, from whom it was communicated to other nations. The division of the year, however, into months and days, could not have been very accurate at first, because it can be settled only by long and attentive observation. The calendar of the oldest nations was quite imperfect. They were satisfied with one which enabled them to manage the common business of husbandry. The Greeks were the first who attempted to adjust the courses of the sur and the moon to each other. For this purpose, they reckoned 12J revolutions of the moon round the earth for one solar year; and, to avoid the fractions of a month, they made the year consist of 13 and 12 months alternately. Solon, perceiving the defects of this arrangement, fixed the number of days in a month at 29£, and made the month consist of 29 and 30 days alternately. Still the length of the month and that of the year were not brought into exact adjustment, and new disorders soon followed. Various plans for the reformation of the calendar were proposed from time to time; but all proved insufficient, till Meton and Enctemon finally succeeded in bringing it to a much greater degree of accuracy, by fixing on the period of 19 years, in which time the new moons return upon the same days of the year as before (as 19 solar years are very nearly equal to 235 lunations). (See Cycle.) This mode of computation, first adopted by the Greeks (433 B. C), was so much approved of, that it was engraven with golden letters on a tablet at Athens. Hence the number, showing what year of the moon's cycle any given year is, is called the golden number. This period of 19 years was found, however, to be about six hours too long. This defect Calippus, about 102 years later, endeavored to remedy, but still failed to make the beginning of the seasons return on the same fixed day of the year.Among the Romans, their first king, Romulus, introduced a year of 10 divisions or months, of which 4 (namely, March, May, July and October) contained 31 days; the rest (April, June, August, September, November and December), only 30. When he discovered that this mode of reckoning was imperfect, he inserted as many days as were necessary to complete the year, and bring it up to the beginning of the following one. His successor, Numa Pompilius, abolished this method, added 50 days more, took 1 day from each of the 6 months containing 30 days, because even numbers were supposed to be unlucky, and out of the whole 56 days formed 2 new months of 28 days each, which he called January and February. Thus the year consisted of 12 months, and 350 days; and, to make it agree with the course of the sun, intercalations were made use of, after the manner of the Greeks. These intercalations, however, were left to the discretion of the priests; and, as they made them very arbitrarily, according to the exigences of the state, or their own private views, complaints and irregularities soon arose. Notwithstanding this defect, the arrangement continued to the end of the republican constitution. The calendar of the Romans had a very peculiar arrangement. They gave particular names to 3 days of the month. The first day was called the calends. In the 4 months of March, May, July and October, the 7th, in the others, the 5th day, was called the nones; and, in the 4 former, the 15th, in the rest, the 13th day, was called the ides. The other days they distinguished in the following manner:they counted from the abovementioned days backwards, observing to reckon also the one from which they began. Thus the 3d of March, according to the Roman reckoning, would be the 5th day before the nones, which, in that month, fall upon the 7th. The 8th of January, in which month the nones happen on the 5th, and the ides on the 13th, was called the 6th before the ides of January. Finally, to express any of the days after the ides, they reckoned in a similar manner from the calends of the following month. From the inaccuracy of the Roman method of reckoning, it appears that, in Cicero's time, the calendar brought the vernal equinox almost two months later than it ought to be. According to the last letter of the 10th book of Cicero's Epistles to Atticus, this equinox was not yet past, although it was near the end of May, by their calendar. To check this irregularity, Julius Csesar, on being appointed dictator and pontiff (A. U. C. 707), invited the Greek astronomer Sosigenes to Rome, who, with the assistance of Marcus Fabius, invented that mode of reckoning, which, after him who introduced it into use, has been called the Julian calendar. The chief improvement consisted in restoring the equinox to its proper place in March. For this purpose, two months were inserted between November and December, so that the year 707, called, from this circumstance, the year of confusion, contained 14 months. In the number of days, the Greek computation was adopted, which made it 365^. The number and names of the months were kept unaltered, with the exception of Q,uintilis, which was henceforth called, in honor of the author of the improvement, Julius. To dispose of the quarter of a day, it was determined to intercalate a day every fourth year, between the 23d and 24th of February. This was called an intercalary day, and the year in which it took place was called an intercalary year, or, as we term it, a leap year. This calendar continued in vise among the Romans until the fall of the empire, and throughout Christendom till 1582. The festivals of the Christian church were determined by it. With regard to Easter, however, it was necessary to have reference to the course of the moon. The Jews celebrated Easter (i. e., the Passover) on the 14th of the month Nisan (or March); the Christians in the same month, but always on a Sunday. Now, as the Easter of the Christians sometimes coincided with the Passover of the Jews, and it was thought unchristian to celebrate so important a festival at the same time as the Jews did, it was resolved, at the council of Nice, 325 A. D., that, from that time, Easter should be solemnized on the Sunday following the first fullmoon after the vernal equinox, which was then supposed to take place on the 21st of March. As the course of the moon was thus made the foundation for determining the time of Easter, the lunar cycle of Meton was taken for this purpose; according to which the year contains 365£ days, and the new moons, after a period of 19 years, return on the same days as before. The inaccuracy of the Julian year, thus combined with the lunar cycle, must have soon discovered itself, on a comparison with the true time of the commencement of the eouinoxes, since the received lengthof 365i days exceeds the true by about 11 minutes; so that, for every such Julian year, the equinox receded 11 minutes, or a day in about 130 years. In consequence of this, in the 16th century, the vernal equinox had changed its place in the calendar from the 21st to the 10th ; i. e., it really took place on the 10th instead of the 21st, on which it was placed in the calendar. Aloysius Lilius, a physician of Verona, projected a plan for amending the calendar, which, after his death, was presented by his brother to pope Gregory XIII. To carry it into execution, the pope assembled a number of prelates and learned men. In 1577, the proposed change was adopted by all the Catholic princes; and, in 1582, Gregory issued a brief abolishing the Julian calendar in all Catholic countries, and introducing in its stead the one now in use, under the name of the Gregorian or reformed calendar, or the new style, as the other was now called the old style. The amendment consisted in this:10 days were dropped after the 4th of Oct., 1582, and the 15th was reckoned immediately after the 4th. Every 100th year, which, by the old style, was to have been a leap year, was now to be a common year, the 4th excepted; i. e., 1600 was to remain a leap year, but 1700,1800, 1900, to be of the common length, and 2000 a leap year again. In this calendar, the length of the solar year was taken to be 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds. Later observations of Zach, Lalande and Delambre fix the average length of the tropical year at about 27 seconds less; but it is unnecessary to direct the attention of the reader to the error arising from this difference, as it will amount to a day only in the space of 3000 years. Notwithstanding the above improvement, the Protestants retained the Julian calendar till 1700, when they also adopted the new style, with this difference, that they assigned the feast of Easter to the day of the first full moon after the astronomical equinox. But this arrangement produced new variations. In 1724 and 1744, the Easter of the Catholics was eight days later than that of the Protestants. On this account, the Gregorian calendar was finally adopted, 1777, in Germany, under the name of the general calendar of the empire, or, as it is now called, the reformed calendar, in order that the Catholics and Protestants might celebrate Easter, and, consequently, all the movable feasts, at the same time. England introduced the new style in 1752, and Sweden in 1753. Russia only re tains the old style, which now differs 12 days from the new.In France, during the revolution, a new calendar was introduced by a decree of the national convention, Nov. 24, 1793. The time from which the new reckoning was to commence was the autumnal equinox of 1792, which fell upon the 22d of Sept., at 18 minutes and 30 seconds after 9 A. M., Paris time. This day was select ed as that on which the first decree of the new republic had been promulgated. The year was made to consist of 12 months of 30 days each, and, to complete the full number of days, ,5 jours complementaires were added to the end of it, in common years, and 6 in leap years. Each period of 4 years, terminating with a leap year, was called a franciade. Instead of weeks, each month was divided into 3 parts, called decades, consisting of 10 days each; the other divisions being also accommodated to the decimal system. The names of the months were so chosen as to indicate, by their etymology, the time of year to which they belonged. They were as follows:Autumn, from the 22d Sept. to the 22d Dec.; Vendtmiaire, vintage month (Oct.); Brumaire, foggy month (Nov.); Frimaire, sleet month (Dec.) : Winter, from 22d Dec. to 22d March; JYivose, snowy month (Jan.); Ventose, windy month (Feb.); Plumose, rainy month (March):Spring, from 22d March to 22d June; Germinal, bud month (April); Floreal, flower month (May); Prairial, meadow month (June):Summer, from 22d June to 22d Sept.; Messidor, harvest month (July); Thermidor, hot month (Aug.); Fructidor, fruit month (Sept.).The 10 days of each decade were called, 1. Primidi, 2. Duodi, 3. Tridi, 4. Quartidi, 5. Quintidi, 6. Sextidi, 7. Septidi, 8. Octidi, 9. JYonidi, 10. Decadi (the Sabbath). Besides this, each day in the year had its particular name, appropriate to the time when it occurred; e. g., the 7th of vintage month, Vendemiaire, was named carottes (carrots). This calendar was abolished, at the command of Napo leon, by a decree of the senate, 9th Sept.. 1805, and the common Christian or Gregorian calendar introduced throughout the French empire. (For a pretty full historical account of this subject, see Biisch's Handbuch der Erfindungen, vol, vii. p. 152 et seq.; also Gebelin's Histoire du Calendrier. There are also astronomical calendars, to which the Astronomical YearBook of professor Bode belongs, and of which 50 vols, had appeared in 1822. It is still continued. Of the same class are the Paris Connoissance des Temps, and the London Nautical Almanac. See Almanac and Chronology.)