"Why Calendars Are So Weird, and What Might Be Done About It" Discussion Thread

Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, Why Calendars Are So Weird, and What Might Be Done About It. You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.

The calendar idea might be implementable with not too much push back, but the time idea (24 hour clock, no time zones)…forget about it, we can’t even get Alabama and eastern Tennessee into the Eastern Time Zone where they truly belong.


I want a calendar in which each day of the month is on the same date of every other month.
For example, January 1 is always on a Sunday. February 1 would also be on Sunday. etc.
On any date of the month a person would know what day it was. That may not be a big issue for some, but many times I see meetings listed as a month and date but not a day of the week. (Meetings should ALWAYS be listed as the Day, the Month, the Date, and the time. When a day is left out a person usually has to ask, "Now, what day of the week is that?)
In my plan, every day of each month will have the same date.
I’ve entertained myself while traveling with this plan. The best that I can come up with is that at some point there will need to be a leap month. Or, something like that.
Does the calendar proposed in this article fit my suggestions?


You haven’t mentioned the Mayan calendar yet. There are still thousands of people in Mexico and Central America who follow this ancient calendar. It’s so difficult to learn that there are designated timekeepers who interpret each day.

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I can’t understand why anyone would want dates to be on the exact same day of the week every year. That isn’t just consistency it’s banality and it’s straight out of The Twilight Zone. To the writer: you would find reasons for the seven day week for example if you looked a little harder. Granted they may be religious or even pagan in origin but there are reasons I’m sure. I was also surprised that the previous ten month calendar I think called the Julian wasn’t even worth a mention. BTW, I would hate saying 19 to 3 as a way of describing a typical work day but I guess I’d get used to it but why? That’s something that’s just fine the way it is.

The article mentions that the Gregorian calendar started in 1582. The Church–there was really only one that mattered, the one that was spelled with a capital “C”–had long been concerned that the old Julian calendar had generated too many leap years and was getting out of synch with the equinoxes at a rate of about one day every four hundred years, so Pope Gregory XIII (get it? Gregory, Gregorian?) declared in a papal bull that ten days would be dropped from the calendar and if, for example, today was the tenth, then tomorrow would be the twentieth. This was to be on pain of excommunication, so the Catholic countries hopped right on it.

However, non-Catholic, and indeed, non-Christian countries and regions were suspicious of this Papist claptrap and didn’t comply immediately. England and the British colonies, including what would become the United States and Canada, didn’t make the switch until September of 1752, and others were even later than that, like Turkey, for example, which was the last hold-out to make the switch, in 1926/27. One can imagine how difficult it would have been to set up a meeting between participants from countries with differing calendars. And the problem was only compounded by the fact that in some countries the first day of the new year, and hence the day on which the year’s numeric designation changed, was January 1st, while in others it was April 1st.

On Unix computer systems, including the Mac, there’s a “cal” command. You can enter a month and year and it will print out a calendar for all the days in that month. In the U. S., Canada and the U. K., if you enter “cal 9 1752” into a terminal window, you’ll see that the day after Wednesday, September 2nd is Thursday the 14th. I’ve never been able to find out what would happen on Unix machines in the early adopter states. Maybe some of our Italian or Spanish friends will tell us. It’s said that some contemporaries, including George Washington, changed the dates of their birthdays in order to somehow make them more accurate after 1752. The scurrilous rumors that Washington, a notorious cheapskate, did it to avoid missing all those birthday gifts, are almost certainly apocryphal.


If that’s not temporally confusing enough, the method for determining when Easter occurs involves the Church’s—not the astronomical—version of the Vernal equinox, and something called the Paschal moon. It’s left as an exercise for the inquiring student. Suffice it to say that if you need the date for Easter in a computer program, it’s infinitely easier to just build a lookup table with an entry for each year. And yes, I’m aware that the Greek Orthodox Church has its own calendar for determining New Year’s Day, Christmas and Easter, but I’m all worn out. The really inquiring student will have to figure those out.

Russ Jones
The hypothetical computer programmer that was alluded to in the previous paragraph.

The change from the Julian (Julius Ceasar) to the Gregorian (Pope Gregory) is an interesting story by itself. People were upset because they thought that 12 days were being “stolen” from them. It is interesting how people identify with the calendar. Even today, people thought the world was going to end in 2000, never realizing that humans numbering the years would have no effect on the actual working of the universe.
Much of the problems associated with time have to do with the motions of the earth/moon/sun are not synchronized with each other. One complete orbit of the sun takes 365.25 days (Approximately).
Then some people used a lunar calendar and others a solar.
I always thought that the new year should start on the day we now designate as December 21, in other words, when the sun reaches its southernmost position in relation to earth, and starts moving back north. That change would be somewhat simple to implement, in one year make the day after December 20, January 1, and then use the present calendar after that.

I recall when I was young that Illinois used Daylight Savings Time and Wisconsin didn’t, so if you were going to Illinois from Wisconsin, (or vice-versa) you had to change your watch. I always thought that exotic.

Gregorian calendar was not designed for this modern age. The annual calendar variations always confuse our memory and waste our effort and resource to deal with. However, the key issues of the current calendar system can be fixed with simple concept of Long Saturday and Long Sunday. They are parts of the proposal of NexCalendar. NexCalendar uses the same set of dates and months of the current calendar with subtle extension of the week system. It simply combines the first 8 month of 2024 and the last 4 month of 2029, and sets December 31 as the leap Sunday. Then the Gregorian calendar will be upgraded into the familiar perennial calendar “NexCalendar”. You may take a look of http://nexcalendar.org