By Myrna Lamb, WPRO Talk Show Host and Astrologer
With the world about to end, according to the Mayan calendar, I have done some research into several calendars. The subject is fascinating. It’s all about how people tried to fit a calendar to the solar year which is actually 365 and ¼ days long. Lots of early calendars messed up the timing by trying to divide days into even groups, unlike the varying lengths of our months.
The Mayan Calendar dates back to before 3000BC. The Mayans were great mathematicians – but their calendar system was complex and consisted of more than one calendar –one of which is the 5,125-year cycle that is set to expire on12/21/12 a date that marks the end of the Long Count calendar – a period also known as the Great Cycle.
That calendar had only 360 days. To match their calendar to the solar year, the Mayans added five “nameless” days. That’s a little sloppy.
As to apocalypse theories, Mayan scholars dismiss the idea. They say the end of the calendar would be regarded as a time of celebration, much like modern-day New Year’s festivities .There are also no Mayan inscriptions or writings that predict the end of the world when the Great Cycle concludes.
The ancient Egyptians, like the Mayans, used a calendar with 12 months of 30 days each, for a total of 360 days per year. As a result, the Egyptian year only coincided precisely with the solar year once every 1,460 years. Not too successful.
Sometime around 4000 B.C. the Egyptians added five extra days at the end of every year to bring it more into line with the solar year. This still didn’t really work because the solar year is really 365 and 1/4 days – so over a period of years the Egyptian calendar didn’t fit the seasons. More on Egyptian calendar, here.
The Jewish Calendar is based on both the sun and the moon. According to that one, this is the year 5773. That calendar has no set end and is still used to date ceremonies and holidays.
Before the Gregorian calendar came along, the Romans, who were superstitious that even numbers were unlucky, made their months 29 or 31 days long, with the exception of February which had 28 days.
Four months of 31 days and seven months of 29 days, and one month of 28 days added up to only 355 days. Therefore the Romans invented an extra month of 22 or 23 days. It was added every second year. Pretty Clumsy.
Eventually the Roman calendar became so far off that Julius Caesar ordered a sweeping reform. 46 B.C. was made 445 days long bringing the calendar back in step with the seasons.
Then the solar year (with the value of 365 days and 6 hours) was made the basis of the calendar. The months were 30 or 31 days in length, and to take care of the 6 hours, every fourth year was made a 366-day year.
This calendar was named the Julian calendar, after Julius Caesar, and it continues to be used by Eastern Orthodox churches for holiday calculations to this day. However, despite the correction, the Julian calendar is still 11 1/2 minutes longer than the actual solar year, and after a number of centuries, even 11 1/2 minutes adds up. Source material, here.
That takes us to the calendar used worldwide today: The Gregorian Calendar,.: By the 15th century, the Julian calendar had drifted behind the solar calendar by about a week, so that the vernal equinox was falling around March 12 instead of around March 20.
In 1545, the Council of Trent authorized Pope Paul III to reform the calendar.. The immediate correction, ordered by Pope Gregory XIII, was that Thursday, Oct. 4, 1582, was to be the last day of the Julian calendar. The next day would be Friday October 15th.
Leap years were instituted and over all the calendar did and still does work… except that an average calendar year is still about 26 seconds longer than the Earth's orbital period. But this discrepancy will need 3,323 years to build up to a single day.
A calendar reform is an extraordinary event. Adoption of a calendar depends on the forcefulness with which it is introduced and on the willingness of society to accept it.. The acceptance of a new calendar is no mean feat. It took more than three centuries for the Gregorian calendar, first implemented in 1582, to become the worldwide standard.
England and its colonies changed calendars in 1752. It took a revolution in Russia to introduce the Gregorian calendar in 1918. In Turkey, the Islamic calendar was still in use until 1926. More info here..
Myrna Lamb is a professional astrologer, thirty years in the field, as well as a radio personality and published author. Currently, in addition to conferring with clients by telephone or in her Rhode Island office, she writes a weekly astrology column and hosts a weekly astrology ~ card reading radio program, Saturday nights from 5 to 7 P.M. on WPRO. Her books, The Astrology of Great Sex (heterosexual) and The Astrology of Great Gay Sex are available at stores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.com.