Have you ever wondered how we got our calendar?
Who came up with this device that ensures seasons come and go, birthdays are celebrated, and appointments are not missed?
He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
Calendars have been used by many societies throughout history. Most cultures used calendars based on the moon cycle. The average moon cycle lasts 29.5 days, so they would typically alternate each month by 29 and 30 days to keep in sync with the moon. In a 12-month moon cycle, 354 days passed by – just short of the seasonal cycle of 365 days. In order to keep the seasons aligned, most societies added a ‘bonus’ month once every 3 years or so.
The Romans developed a calendar that was initially a lunar calendar but eventually just became a big mess. It went for 10 months, then took a break after December, and then started back up about 50 odd days later in March. If you’re born in that winter break, sucks to be you, because you don’t have a birthday!
Eventually they worked it all out and added 2 more months, which were the equivalent of our January and February. However, their calendar was still way off.
Finally, in 46BC Julius Caesar set out to permanently correct the calendar. Julius Caesar knew that the Egyptians worked on a solar calendar of 365 days and that this system, although good, was knocked out of sync by a single day once every four years. By bringing together the brightest and best astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers, they created a working calendar that had three years of 365 days followed by a leap year of 366 days.
Because of its amazing consistency, the “Julian Calendar” took hold in the Roman world and was later spread by the growth of Christianity into other regions.
But there was one problem…
Julius Caesar was only mostly correct in asserting that the average year lasted 365.25 days. The average year actually lasts 365.2425 days. It may only be a few minutes off (10 minutes, 50 seconds to be precise), but this slight variant meant that by 1500AD the calendar was out of sync by about 13 days.
That’s when Pope Gregory XIII gathered another group of astronomers, scientists, and mathematicians to fine-tune the calendar system once and for all.
Their solution was quite simple. They continued with the leap year, once every four years, with this exception:
1) If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
2) The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.
To give a few examples – 1600, 2000, and 2400 are all leap years because although they can be divided evenly by 100, they also are evenly divisible by 400. On the other hand, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 are not leap years because they cannot be evenly divided by 400.
By adding this minor twist to the leap year system, the Gregorian calendar gains back three days every 400 years in order to make up for those lost minutes that the Julian calendar did not account for.
Despite the near perfection of our calendar system, God knows every moment of our existence. He’s seen it, planned it, and ordained it. It was His idea.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Regardless of what calendar system humans create, God has appointed each day. This is good news because I believe He has awesome plans for you this year, this month, and even this day.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Even if you’re burnt out Jesus has this message…
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
If you don’t really know much about Jesus, why not make a resolution this year to investigate what God has in store for you?
Put it on the calendar!