Part 2 of 4 in the Calendar Series
Unknown to most people in this world, there are about 82 other calendars that have been used through the centuries, with most of them still being used even to this very day!
Last week, I wrote an article titled, The Surprising Origins of our Modern Calendar. While the Roman Calendar is presently the most popular, we need to be aware that there are several dozen other calendars that the peoples in various ages of this world have used, and may still be using today. Of course, some were more recently invented than others.
But the most important question is: Why this great proliferation and confusion of various calendars in this one single world of ours? Surprisingly, do you suspect the cause is similar to the great proliferation of various religions in this world today! Therefore, could all these have some common denominator among them? Please read on to find out.
Brief Background on the Various Calendars
Before we answer the important question, it’s good to have a general grasp of the types of calendars in this world, and how they are classified. For background information and more details, you may check Wikipedia’s List of Calendars. But as a start, let’s begin with a brief summary of these calendars:
First, these are generally grouped into Regional or Historical groupings. Examples of these are the Hijri, Mayan, Aztecan, Babylonian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Iranian, Hindu, Buddhist, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican, Hellenic calendars, and those derived from the Julian or Gregorian calendars.
Likewise, these calendars can also be classified into four general types (with a primary example for each type):
- Luni-solar (Hebrew Calendar)
- Solar (Roman Calendar)
- Lunar (Islamic Calendar)
- Seasonal (This type of calendar relies on changes in the environment rather than just lunar or solar observations)
Some calendars that have been listed are identical to the Gregorian calendar, except for substituting regional month names or a different calendar era. For example, the Thai Solar Calendar (introduced only in 1888) is a Gregorian calendar using different names for the Gregorian months. The Thai names are based on the signs of the zodiac.
This topic about calendars is very big, complicated, technical, and history-based, which obviously goes beyond the scope of this short article. But for the sake of illustrating the main point and answering the question in this article, I will just present two examples:
The Expired Calendar!
Let’s focus first on an ancient calendar which became widely known in our modern world over five years ago. Many of us have become more acquainted with the Mayan Calendar, because it predicted the “end of the world” on December 21, 2012, the day when such calendar simply ends (on the winter solstice of December 2012). What dramatically brought such calendar into prominence was when Hollywood produced a movie, titled 2012. Apart from this expected event, several books riding on that exciting and suspenseful topic were published then.
That movie was inspired by the “Great 2012 Doomsday Scare” originating from the prediction of that Mayan Calendar, which some took quite seriously. A month before the release of that movie, a director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles was quoted by Sky & Telescope Magazine regarding this topic.
Part of the then up-coming movie event’s description read: “Frightful rumors and gossip are spreading… astronomical fears about 2012 End Times. Opening in theaters on Friday, Nov. 13, will be “2012” a $200-million disaster movie that seems designed to break all records for disaster spectacles — with cracking continents, plunging asteroids, burning cities, and a tsunami throwing an aircraft carrier through the White House…”
By way of introduction, Wikipedia states that the Maya calendar is a system of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in many modern communities in the Guatemalan highlands, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, Mexico, which dates back to the 5th century B.C.E. Continuing the Wikipedia account on this calendar, [there are] “less… poorly understood cycles, combinations and calendar progressions. An 819-day Count is attested in a few inscriptions. Repeating sets of 9 days (Nine lords of the night) associated with different groups of deities, animals and other significant concepts…”
For more details, please refer to this article, How Does the Mayan Calendar Work?
The Chinese Calendar
Next to the Roman Gregorian Calendar, the most widely used calendar in the world today (estimate based on the well over a billion users) is the Chinese Calendar.
In brief, below are some probably little-known facts about the Chinese Calendar:
- The Chinese calendar has about 100 variants (as with variants in Chinese characters).
- The days begin and end at midnight, while the months begin and end at new moons.
- The year begins with the new moon in between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
- It is also used in Korea, Vietnam, and the Ryukyu Islands (of course, with different meridians).
- While the Gregorian Calendar is officially used, the Chinese Calendar is still important there.
- The Chinese calendar guides its citizens on which days to avoid (unlucky), and which days are best (lucky) for important events such as weddings, funerals, moving, starting a business, etc.
- Each calendar year is designated by an animal until the cycle of 12 animals is completed. Then the cycle is repeated. The animals cycled are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. (For 2018, the assigned animal is the dog.)
- There are 12 or 13 months in each Chinese calendar year. The years with 12 months, or 353 to 355 days, are known as common years, while those with 13 months, or 383 to 385 days, are long years.
- Years used to be numbered after the reign title of a ruler in ancient China, but this was discontinued after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. As of 2017, the Chinese calendar is still defined by rules of the Standardization Administration of the Republic of China issued on May 12, 1912.
(For more information on the Chinese Calendar, please refer to the stated article.)
Why All This Confusion About Calendars?
In view of all these (about 82) conflicting systems of time-reckoning called “calendars” in use in various civilizations, regions, nations, and cultures around the world, what conclusion can we draw from this phenomenon? Why is there so much confusion on the subject of calendars alone?
The only reliable answer can be found in the Bible, whether you believe it or not. It takes the supreme and only wise God to reveal to us the mysterious events and happenings in this world. It is only God who can see the invisible forces at work affecting all of mankind.
Whether you believe it or not, the Bible reveals that Satan, the great Deceiver (Revelation 12:9) has deceived the whole world. People who do not believe this biblical statement have already been sadly deceived by Satan. He is also called “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Not only that, he is also the present, active “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The scope of his power and the influence of his operation encompasses the whole world, which is presently and helplessly lying under the power of that wicked one [Satan], as stated in 1 John 5:19.
We have just answered our initial question at the beginning of this article. There’s still a third installment to this big topic. Watch out for that third installment in this Calendar Series. We will be discussing next the interesting topic about the controversial changes in the Hebrew Calendar. Please watch out for it.