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Happy 2024 - or is it?

January 06, 2024

Happy 2024 - or is it?

Gaby made a Greek New Year cake this week - Vasilopita. A bit late you might say! But it’s following the Greek Orthodox calendar that Julius Caesar started in 45BC, so lands on January 14th. In the Islamic calendar it’s 1445 now. In the Jewish Calendar it’s year 5784. 

Calendar Chaos

The Julian calendar that Caesar established was a reform of the Roman republican calendar. This solar calendar was about 11 minutes a year out, which by the mid-1500s had shifted the seasons by 10 days.  

Solar System

So in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII implemented a modified and more accurate version called the Gregorian calendar which most of the world now follows. In the 1580s most of the Catholic areas of Europe took it on. Prussia took another 28 years and the protestant areas of Germany a further 100 years.

In the 18th century, the USA, Canada and the UK along with its colonies joined in by which time they had to remove 11 days from their calendars. In the USA the 1752 calendar for September went from the 2nd straight to the 14th. Japan joined in the next century, Russia, Greece and Turkey in the 20th, and Saudi Arabia just 8 years ago. China adopted it in 1912 but warlords carried on using different calendars until 1929.

Aztec Calendar

The Aztec calendar above had year 21.12. 2012 as a significant date with a range of eschatological beliefs of cataclysmic events occurring. Gloom, doom, end of the world etc.

All the main ancient calendars used the cycles of the moon or the sun to create their calendars. The Jewish calendar is lunisolar – using both, as were the ancient Macedonian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Chinese. This added more complication and need for regular tweaking for religious or administrative reasons. The ancient Persian calendar dating back to the Archaemenid Empire of 5th century BC was solar as are the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Check out Gaby’s delicious Greek New Year cake here

Michael Van Clarke





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