Most elementary students know some version of the poem “Thirty days hath September.” It normally goes something like this:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
except poor February
which has twenty-eight
and in Leap-Year twenty-nine
It’s hard to keep track of how many days are in this month, such as knowing if this is a leap year. It’s not until later years that older students wonder – is there method to this madness?
The United Nations, Universal Postal Union and most civilized nations follow what is called the Gregorian Calendar or the Western Calendar.
The first recorded calendars belonged to the Romans. The Roman Calendar varied ruler to ruler, usually consisting of 355 days. Many speculate it was based off of the Greek lunar calendar. It wasn’t until 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar was emperor, that the 365-day Julian Calendar was created. The new calendar gave every month an extra day or two except for February, which stayed at 28 days.
Much of the world followed the Roman Calendar until 1582, when the catholic Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new calendar system so that Christians would all celebrate Easter on the same day.
The Gregorian Calendar was similar to the Roman Calendar, except for the leap years which occur every fourth year instead of every third.
The Catholics couldn’t enforce the common calendar on people, but Spain, Portugal and Italy quickly adopted it. From there, it spread across the world. Greece adopted the Gregorian Calendar most recently in 1923.
Many countries still don’t hold to the Gregorian Calendar such as Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Iraq and Afghanistan.
China does follow the Gregorian Calendar, but celebrates many cultural holidays based on the Han Calendar, which is a Chinese calendar based on lunar cycles and solar phases. The Chinese New Year falls under the Han Calendar and changes each year.
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