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CALENDAR

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Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 989 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CALENDAR, so called from the Roman Calends or Kalends, a method of distributing time into certain periods adapted to the purposes of civil life, as hours, days, weeks, months, years, &c. Of all the periods marked out by the motions of the celestial bodies, the most conspicuous, and the most intimately connected with the affairs of mankind, are the solar day, which is distinguished by the diurnal revolution of the earth and the alternation of light and darkness, and the solar year, which completes the circle of the seasons. But in the early ages of the world, when mankind were chiefly engaged in rural occupations, the phases of the moon must have been objects of great attention and interest,—hence the month, and the practice adopted by many nations of reckoning time by the motions of the moon, as well as the still more general practice of combining, lunar with solar periods The solar day, the solar year, and the lunar month, or lunation, may therefore be called the natural divisions of time. All others, as the hour, the week, and the civil month, though of the most ancient and general use, are only arbitrary and conventional. Day.—The subdivision of the day (q.v.) into twenty-four parts, or hours, has prevailed since the remotest ages, though different nations have not agreed either with respect to the epoch of its commencement or the manner of distributing the hours. Europeans in general, like the ancient •Egyptians, place the commencement of the civil day at midnight, and reckon twelve morning hours from midnight to midday, and twelve evening hours from midday to midnight. Astronomers, after the example of Ptolemy, regard the day as commencing with the sun's culmination, or noon; and find it most convenient for the purposes•of computation to reckon through the whole twenty-four hours. Hipparchus reckoned the twenty-four hours from midnight to midnight. Some-nations, as the ancient Chaldeans and the modern Greeks, have chosen sunrise for the commencement of the day; others, again, as the Italians and Bohemians, suppose it to commence at sunset. In all these cases the beginning of the day varies with the seasons at all places not under the equator. In the early ages of Rome, and even down to the middle of the 5th century after the foundation of the city, no other divisions of the day were known than sunrise, sunset, and midday, which was marked by the arrival of the sun between the Rostra and a place called Graecostasis, where ambassadors from Greece and other countries used to stand. The Greeks divided the natural day and night into twelve equal parts each, and the hours thus formed were denominated temporary hours, from their varying in length according to the seasons of the year. The hours of the day and night were of course only equal at the time of the equinoxes. The whole period of day and night they called PvXOiµepov. Week.—The week is a period of seven days, having no reference whatever to the celestial motions,—a circumstance to which it owes its unalterable uniformity. Although it did not enter into the calendar of the Greeks, and was not introduced at Rome till after the reign of Theodosius, it has been employed from time immemorial in almost all eastern countries; and as it forms neither an aliquot part of the year nor of the lunar month, those who reject the Mosaic recital will be at a loss, as Delambre remarks, to assign it to an origin having much semblance of probability. It might have been suggested by the phases of the moon, or by the number of the planets known in ancient times, an origin which is rendered more probable from the names universally given to the different days of which it is composed. In the Egyptian astronomy, the order of the planets, beginning with the most remote, is Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon. Now, the day being divided into twenty-four hours, each hour was consecrated to a particular planet, namely, one to Saturn, the following to Jupiter, the third to Mars, and so on according to the above order; and the day received the name of the planet which presided over its first hour. If, then, the first hour of a day was consecrated to Saturn, that planet would also have the 8th, the 15th, and the 22nd hour; the 23rd would fall to Jupiter, the 24th to Mars, and the 25th, or the first hour of the second day, would belong to the Sun. In like manner the first hour of the 3rd day would fall to the Moon, the first of the 4th day to Mars, of the 5th to Mercury, of the 6th to Jupiter, and of the 7th to Venus. The cycle being completed, the first hour of the 8th day would return to Saturn, and all the others succeed in the same order. According to Dio Cassius, the Egyptian week commenced with Saturday. Ontheir flight from Egypt, the Jews, from hatred to their ancient oppressors, made Saturday the last day of the week. The English names of the days are derived from the Saxon. The ancient Saxons had borrowed the week from some Eastern nation, and substituted the names of their own divinities for those of the gods of Greece. In legislative and justiciary acts the Latin names are still retained. Latin. English. Saxon. Dies Solis. Sunday. Sun's day. Dies Lunae. Monday. Moon's day. Dies Martis. Tuesday. Tiw's day. Dies Mercurii. Wednesday. Woden's day. Dies Jovis. Thursday. Thor's day. Dies Veneris. Friday. Frigg's day. Dies Saturni. Saturday. Seterne's day. Month.—Long before the exact length of the year was deter-mined, it must have been perceived that the synodic revolution of the moon is accomplished in about 201 days. Twelve lunations, therefore, form- a period of 354 days, which differs only by about 114 days from the solar year. From this circumstance has arisen the practice, perhaps universal, of dividing the year into twelve months. But in the course of a few years the accumulated difference between the solar year and twelve lunar months would become considerable, and have the effect of transporting the commencement of the year to a different season. The difficulties that arose in attempting to avoid this inconvenience induced some nations to abandon the moon aitogether, and regulate their year by the course of the sun. The month, how-ever, being a convenient period of time, has retained its place in the calendars of all nations; but, instead of denoting a synodic revolution of the moon, it is usually employed to denote an arbitrary number of days approaching to the twelfth part of a solar year. Among the ancient Egyptians the month consisted of thirty days invariably; - and in order to complete the year, five days were added at the end, called supplementary days. They made use of no intercalation, and by losing a fourth of a day every year, the commencement of the year went back one day in every period of four years, and consequently made a revolution of the seasons in 1461 years. Hence 1461 Egyptian years are equal to 146o Julian years of 3654 days each. This year is called vague, by reason of its commencing sometimes at one season of the year, and sometimes at another. The Greeks divided the month into three decades, or periods of ten days,—a practice which was imitated by the French in their unsuccessful attempt to introduce a new calendar at the period of the Revolution. This division offers two advantages: the first is, that the period is an exact measure of the month of thirty days; and the second is, that the number of the day of the decade is connected with and suggests the number of the day of the month. For example, the 5th of the decade must necessarily be the 5th, the 15th, or the 25th of the month; so that when the day of the decade is known, that of the month can scarcely be mistaken. In reckoning by weeks. it is necessary to keep in mind the day of the week on which each month begins. The Romans employed a division of the month and a method of reckoning the days which appear not a little extraordinary, and must, in practice, have been exceedingly inconvenient. As frequent allusion is made by classical writers to this embarrassing method of computation, which is carefully retained in the ecclesiastical calendar, we here give a table showing the correspondence of the Roman months with those of modern Europe. Instead of distinguishing the days by the ordinal numbers first, second, third, &c., the Romans counted backwards from three fixed epochs, namely, the Calends, the Nones and the Ides. The Calends (or Kalends) were invariably the first day of the month, and were so denominated because it had been an ancient custom of the pontiffs to call the people together on that day, to apprize them of the festivals, or days that were to be kept sacred during the month. The Ides (from an obsolete verb iduare, to divide) were at the middle of the month, either the 13th or the 15th day; and the Nones were the ninth day before the Ides, counting inclusively. From these three terms the days received their denomination in the following manner:—Those which were comprised between the Calends and the Nones were called the days before the Nones; those between the Nones and the Ides were called the days before the Ides; and, lastly, all the days after the Ides to the end of the month were called the days before the Calends of the succeeding month. In the months of March, May, July and October, the Ides fell on the 15th day, and the Nones consequently on the 7th; so that each of these months had six days named from the Nones. In all the other months the Ides were on the 13th and the Nones on the 5th; consequently there were only four days named from the Nones. Every month had eight days named from the Ides. The number of days receiving their denomination from the Calends depended on the number of days in the month and the day on which the Ides fell. For example, if the month contained 31 days and the Ides fell on the 13th, as was the case in January, August and December, there would remain 18 days after the Da March. anua April. February. Days the of J uly August Septemb er. Month. October. December. November. 2 Calendae. Calendae. Calendae. Calendae. 6 4 4 4 3 5 3 3 3 4 4 Prid. Nonas. Prid. Novas. Prid. Nonas. 5 3 Nonae. Nonae. Nonae. 6 Prid. Nonas. 8 8 8 7 Nonae. 7 7 7 8 8 6 6 6 9 7 5 5 5 to 6 4 4 4 II 5 3 12 4 Prid. Idus. Prid. Idus. Prid. Idus. 13 3 Idus. Idus. Idus. 14 Prid.Idus. 19 z8 z6 15 Idus. 18 17 15 16 17 17 16 14 17 16 16 r5 13 18 15 15 14 12 19 14 14 13 II 20 13 13 12 to 21 I2 12 II 9 22 II II to 8 23 to to 9 7 24 9 9 8 6 25 8 8 7 5 26 7 7 6 4 27 6 6 5 3 28 5 5 4 Prid. Cal. 29 4 4 33 Mart. 30 3 3 Prid. alen. 31 Prid. Calen. Prid. Calen. Ides, which, added to the first of the following month, made 19 days of Calends. In January, therefore, the 14th day of the month was called the nineteenth before the Calends of February (counting inclusively), the 15th was the 18th before the Calends and so on'to the 30th, which was called the third before the Calend (tertio Calendas)', the last being the second of the Calends, or the day before the Calends (pridie Calendas).
End of Article: CALENDAR
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