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Calendars Around the World

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Every country across the world follows the common Gregorian calendar although some regions have their own traditional calendar as well. It is estimated that there are approximately 40 different calendars across the world. Thus it is not an unbelievable fact that we could be in a different year according to some other calendar. The calendars most popularly known and used are the Gregorian, Islamic and Chinese calendars.

The Three Broad Classes of Calendars

Calendars are divided into three types. They are Lunar, Solar and Lunisolar calendars. A lunar calendar consists of twelve months calculated according to the repetition of the phases of the moon. It takes approximately 29.53 days for a moon to repeat its phase (i.e. one full moon to the next) and hence the length of a month in a lunar calendar. Thus a year in a lunar calendar has a total of 354.37 days and therefore seasons go out of phase gradually. For this reason, the use of lunar calendars has been discontinued. The Islamic calendar is an exception to this and is still popularly used. This is because the Islamic countries are located in the torrid regions where the variation among different seasons is less prominent and hence not greatly felt.

The second type of calendar is the solar calendar which is based on the length of the year. Dates in this calendar show the position of the Earth during a revolution around the Sun. The Gregorian calendar, which evolved from the Roman calendar, is of this type.

The lunisolar calendars are 12 synodic months long but every few years, a thirteenth month is added to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons. The lunisolar calendars still in use are the Hebrew (or Jewish) calendar and the Chinese calendar.

Julian to Gregorian date change

Julian to Gregorian date change

The Julian and The Gregorian Calendars

The Julian calendar was first introduced by Emperor Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. This calendar considered 1st January as the starting date of the year. The same was adopted by the Gregorian calendar which was implemented by Pope Gregory XIII. Both of these calendars are Roman and have a total of 365 days for a common year and 366 days for a leap year. The first reason for introducing the Gregorian calendar was the miscalculation of the Easter day which should fall on the first Sunday after spring equinox. The second reason was that the Julian calendar was 11 minutes longer, a result of wrong calculation. Every month of the Gregorian calendar are named after the Roman kings, gods and emperors.

The Islamic or Hijri Calendar

In this calendar, a year begins on the first day of Muharram. This calendar was first introduced during the departure of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in AD 622. Caliph Umar, in 639 CE, changed the starting month of the calendar to the Lunar month. Each month begins with the witnessing of the first crescent after a new moon. The Islamic calendar has eleven to twelve days less than the Gregorian calendar.

A lunar calendar

A lunar calendar

The traditional Chinese calendar

It is a lunisolar calendar with 29.5 days in a month considering the repetition of phases of the moon. There are twelve months in a year with 353 days in total. This calendar has 29 days in even months and 30 days in odd months. Since this calendar is off by 11 days every year, therefore a month is added after every three years to make up for the 33 days.

The Hindu calendar

The Hindu calendar is popularly used in India which considers the lunar months as its base. There are twelve months in this calendar and dawn marks the start of a day. The beginning of a year is marked by Makar Sankranti and each year is divided into six seasons. The start of a month is observed differently across India. For example, a full moon marks the start of a new month in North India and a new moon marks the start of a new month in South India.

The Hebrew Calendar

This calendar is based on the lunisolar cycle and hence a month is inserted after every three or four years to make up for the difference in days. It was created before 10 AD. The calendar is still followed by the Jews to keep track of all the important events and religious holidays.

Hebrew Calendar, a lunisolar calendar

Hebrew Calendar, a lunisolar calendar

The Persian or Solar Hijri Calendar

This calendar unlike the Islamic calendar is a solar calendar. Similar to that calendar, the Persian calendar too dates back to 622 CE. The beginning of a year is marked from the midnight of the vernal equinox in Iran. There are twelve months out of which the first six months have 31 days each and the next five months have 30 days each. The last month have either 29 or 30 days which switches according to leap year. This calendar is considered to be the one of the most accurate calendars in the world. This calendar is used officially in Iran and Afghanistan.

The Ethiopian Calendar

A new year in Ethiopia starts in September 11th of the Gregorian calendar or September 12th if it is a leap year. Based on the alternate calculations of the date of the announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth, the Ethiopian calendar is seven years behind the Gregorian calendar. Ethiopians have a different time system as well. Unlike using the ante meridian (am) and post meridian (pm), they use a 12 hour timing system. One cycle is from dawn to dusk and the next cycle is from dusk to dawn.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Ankita B (author) on October 19, 2020:

Thank you very much Nithya for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kind comments and your visit.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 18, 2020:

Interesting and informative facts about calendars followed around the world. Thank you for sharing.

Ankita B (author) on October 10, 2020:

Thank you Brenda for reading and commenting. I am glad you found this article interesting.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 10, 2020:

Ankita,

I did not realize there were that many different calendars used across the world.

Interesting article.

Ankita B (author) on August 07, 2020:

Thank you so much Tery. I appreciate your kind comments and your visit.

Tery Peta from Bulgaria on August 07, 2020:

I did not know about all these types of calenders, very interesting to know.

Ankita B (author) on August 03, 2020:

Thank you very much Bhavna for your lovely comments. Much appreciated.

Bhavna from India on August 03, 2020:

Very nicely explained, great content

Ankita B (author) on August 02, 2020:

Thank you James. I appreciate your kind comments and your visit.

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on August 02, 2020:

Very informative. It makes me wonder if my cell phone has all these calendar options.

Ankita B (author) on July 26, 2020:

Thank you so much Denise for your comments. I am glad you found this article informative. I truly appreciate your visit.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 26, 2020:

I honestly didn't realize there were so many different calendars. I knew the Hebrews had a different one and I'm not surprised that the Chinese have a different one but I thought everyone else adopted the Gregorian calendar. I learned something new today.

Blessings,

Denise

Ankita B (author) on July 23, 2020:

Thank you so much Liz for your lovely comments. Appreciated as always.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 23, 2020:

I had no idea that there were so many different calendars. This is an interesting article.

Ankita B (author) on July 22, 2020:

Thank you very much Linda for your appreciative comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading this.

Ankita B (author) on July 22, 2020:

I appreciate your kind comments Prithviraj. Thank you.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 22, 2020:

This is an interesting and very educational article. Thank you for sharing the facts, Ankita.

Prithviraj Shirole from India on July 22, 2020:

That's mind-blowing! There are around 40 types of calendars. I was unaware of that. I enjoyed learning about the 7 calendars. Thanks for the information.

Ankita B (author) on July 22, 2020:

Thank you so much Lorna. I am glad you enjoyed reading this article.

Lorna Lamon on July 22, 2020:

This is an interesting and well structured article Ankita. I was aware of The Julian and Gregorian Calendars, however, not the others, so it was nice to learn something new. Thank you for sharing.

Danny from India on July 22, 2020:

Welcome Ankita

Ankita B (author) on July 22, 2020:

Lovely to see you Shawindi. Thank you very much for your kind comments.

Ankita B (author) on July 22, 2020:

Thank you so much Danny for your lovely comments. Always appreciated.

Shawindi Silva from Sri lanka on July 22, 2020:

An interesting article! I did not know about the above different types of calendars.

Danny from India on July 22, 2020:

Fantastic information Ankita. I knew almost all types but the Ethiopian one was beyond my scope.