Monday, December 28, 2015

31 Days Hath December

There's only a few days left in 2015, New Year's Eve falling on a Thursday this year. And if you've ever wondered what's up with our wacky calendar, with months ranging from 28 to 31 days and months never starting or ending on the same day of the week, Roman Mars (from 99% Invisible) has got the full story for you.

The Gregorian Calendar was developed from the affair of Caesar and Cleopatra, but it's named after Pope Gregory XIII, who standardized it in 1582. 

Now, I've never had any trouble remembering how long each month is, because I do believe I was born knowing this verse:
Thirty days hath September, April, June and November
When short February is done, all the rest have thirty-one.**
There have been attempts to redesign the calendar over the years, but none had much response, except Moses B. Cotsworth in 1902. Cotsworth wanted to introduce a 13-month calendar, which had a standard 28-day month, with an extra month called "Sol" between June and July. At the end of the year, there was a floating day called "Year Day" that was basically a nationally recognized holiday. All months would begin on Sundays, and all holidays would be moved to Mondays.

Clearly, we didn't adopt this calendar, but one significant company actually used this system over 65 years! George Eastman, founder of Kodak was a huge supporter of this system, and rallied for it up until his death. This fascinates me, because how can you, or a company of this size, operate on a whole other calendar than the rest of society? Clearly adaptations and exceptions had to be made.

Per usual, Roman Mars' commentary is entertaining and intellectually fulfilling. If I haven't gotten you to listen to 99% Invisible yet, it's time!!
2016 starts on Friday. If you find yourself without a calendar, there's still calendar inventory available on***!

*Which contains one of my favorite Roman Mars lines ever... "Hitler ruins everything."
**There is fun discussion of the variations of this awkward verse in the 99% Invisible Podcast, especially in the comments section. 
***Only a 12 month calendar. Bonus Sol month not included.

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