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The Calendar

The Calendar (0001-1972)

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How we account for time and record its passage from day-to-day and from year-to-year.

When China agreed to adopt the Gregorian calendar on 1 October 1949, for the first time most of the world could agree on a single method for defining the date.  Prior to this, the story of the calendar has followed many avenues and has been influenced by religion, politics, astronomy and many other forces.

This timeline traces the development of timekeeping systems from the primitive mechanisms to sophisticated atomic clocks.

    0001  CEBeginning of Christian calendar year, 1 A.D. (anno Domini).
    0079  CEThe Hindu calendar was updated to the solar year with this year as year 1. The original dated back to about 1000 BC.
c.    0166  CE(Between 166-174) Pope Soter, moved 'Easter' from Biblical Nisan 14 to following Sunday.
    0190  CEPope Victor I called Council to determine 'official' new date of 'Easter' but failed, excommunicated Eastern churches that continued to observe 'Easter' on Biblical Nisan 14 'Quartodeciman'.
c.    0202  CEIrenaeus, 2nd bishop of Lyons, supported Quartodecimans in Easter controversy versus Pope Victor in 190, wrote 'Against Heresies'.
    0243  CEThe text 'De Pascha Computus' calculated the spring equinox, March 25, under the Julian calendar from the first day of creation. The author used this to derive March 28 as the birthday of Jesus.
  1 Jan 0313  CEA 15 year cycle used in reckoning ecclesiastical calendars was established as a fiscal term to regulate taxes. It is called the Roman Indiction.
    0338  CEJudaism adopted 19-year cycle lunisolar calendar.
    0400  CEThe Angles and Saxons crossed the North Sea to England bringing with them the 5 day week: Tiwsday - of the god Tiw; Wodensday - of the god Woden; Thorsday - of the god Thor; Frigsday - of the goddess Frig; and Seternesday - of the god Seterne.
    0525  CEDionysius Exiguus set Christian calendar, Jesus' birth December 23 in 1ce.
    0549  CEJerusalem held to a Jan 6 date for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus until this year. In the end the West added the Epiphany and the East added the Dec 25 nativity to their liturgical calendars.
c.    0556  CEDionysius Exiguus, Scythian monk, died. He devised the current system of reckoning the Christian era.
    0597  CEBritain adopts Julian calendar.
 16 Jul 0622  CEMohammad flees Mecca to Media (The Hegira) and the start of the Moslem lunar calendar.
c.    0700  CE(Between 700-800) Dionysus Exiguus (Dennis the Short), a Catholic monk, created a chronology for Pope St. John I with a calendar that began in the year 1.
    0990  CERussia adopts Julian calendar
    1079  CEIran adopts solar Hijrah calendar
    1079  CEOmar ibn Ibrahim al-Chajjam completes Jalali-calendar
    1125  CEAbraham bar Hiyya ha-Nasi Jewish calendar
    1345  CEAttempted calendar reform of Pope Clement VI.
  7 Jun 1502  CEPope Gregory XIII was born. He introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582.
    1517  CEPope Leo X's calendar reform fails.
    1552  CEThe shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar was begun.
    1564  CEFrance adopted the reformed calendar and shifted the new year from April to Jan. Some didn't like the change and were called April fools.
    1576  CEThe basilica of San Petronio was erected by Egnatio Danti, a mathematician and Dominican friar who worked for Cosimo I dei Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The structure included a solar observatory. Danti also advised Pope Gregory on calendar reform.
    1581  CEPope Gregory XIII approves the results of his calendar reform commission.
 24 Feb 1582  CEPope Gregory XIII - Aloysius Lilius - and Christopher Clavius introduce a Gregorian calendar with an improved leap year system removing the old Julian Calendar's error of one day in every 128 years.
  4 Oct 1582  CEThe Church Council at Trent, Italy, discussed the error of 10 days in the calendar as referenced to the spring equinox which was used to establish the date for Easter. 'The Gregorian Adjustment', cretaed a calendar thet is accurate to a day in 3,323 years.
    1582  CEItaly and other Catholic countries introduce the Gregorian calendar and skip 10 days
    1582  CEJoseph Scaliger devised the Julian Period as a way to measure time. He named day 1 after his father, Julius Scaliger, and it begins on Jan. 1, 4713 BC, the will take 7,980 Julian years for the cycle to complete, the product of 28, 19 and 15.
    1583  CEHolland (Netherlands) & Flanders begin using the Gregorian calendar (yesterday was 1/1/1583)
    1584  CEBohemia adopts the Gregorian calendar, Last day of the Julian calendar
    1584  CELast day of the Julian calendar in Holy Roman empire.
    1584  CEParts of Switzerland adopt Gregorian calendar (& parts in 1812)
    1622  CEPapal Chancery adopts 1 January as the beginning of the year (was March 25).
c.    1655  CEArchbishop James Usher of Dublin, Ireland, developed a timetable that set the creation of the world to 4004 BCE, and Noah's landing on Mount Ararat in 2348 BCE.
    1656  CEDutch physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) built the first accurate pendulum clock.
    1657  CEA pendulum clock was designed by Christian Huygens and built by Solomon Coster. It is on exhibit at the Time Museum in Rockford, Ill.
    1670  CEMinute hands on watches first appeared.
    1687  CEClocks began to be made with 2 hands for the first time
    1699  CEPeter the Great ordered Russian New Year changed from 1 September to 1 January.
    1700  CELast day of the Julian calendar in Denmark.
    1700  CEProtestant West-Europe (except England) begin using the Gregorian calendar.
    1700  CERussia replaces Byzantines with Julian calendar
    1701  CEDrenthe adopts the Gregorian calendar.
    1701  CEFrisia & Groningen begin use of the Gregorian calendar.
    1701  CEParts of The Netherlands adopt the Gregorian calendar (the other parts of The Netherlands followed one year later).
  2 Sep 1752  CELast day of Julian calendar in Britain, British colonies.
 13 Sep 1752  CEThe Gregorian calendar reforms in Britain and the American colonies this and the next ten day did not exist (3-13 September 1752). New Year's Day was decreed to be 1 January and not 25 March.
 14 Sep 1752  CEEngland & colonies adopt Gregorian calendar, 11 days disappear. People riot thinking the government stole 11 days of their lives.
  1 Mar 1753  CESweden (which included Finland at that time) adopts the Gregorian Calendar.
    1790  CEAztec calendar stone discovered in Mexico City
    1793  CERepublican calendar replaces Gregorian calendar in France.
    1805  CEEnd of French Republican calendar when France returns to Gregorianism.
    1809  CERussia siezed Finland which became a grand duchy with the Russian Tzar as the Grand Duke. The Finns retained thier own legal system, Lutheran religion and calendar (although there was some use of the Julian calendar which was still used by Russia). The Finns were also exempt from Rusian military service.
    1844  CEOrigin of Bahá'í Era-Bahá'í calendar starts here (Bahá 1, 1) and the declaration of the Báb (Bahá'í festival).
    1858  CECalendar origin of the Modified Julian Period.
    1867  CEAlaska adopts the Gregorian calendar which crosses the international date line.
    1867  CELast day of Julian calendar in Alaska
    1873  CEOrigin of Japanese Era
    1883  CEStandard time zones eare stablished by railroads in the US and Canada.
    1884  CEThe US adopts Standard Time.
    1893  CEJapan adopts the Gregorian calendar
    1894  CEDenmark adopts Mid-European time
    1895  CENorway adopts Mid-European time
    1902  CECanada's Maritime Provinces switch from Eastern to Atlantic time
    1906  CEAlberta adopts Mountain Standard Time
    1916  CEBritain begins using 'Summer Time' (Daylight Savings Time)
    1918  CEEstonia, Latvia & Lithuania adopt the Gregorian calendar
    1918  CEIndependant Finland oficially adopts the New Style (Gregorian) calendar.
    1918  CERussia adopts Gregorian calendar
    1918  CEThe first daylight savings time in US goes into effect
    1918  CEUS Congress authorizes time zones & approves daylight saving time
    1920  CEGreece adopts the Gregorian calendar
    1920  CELast day of Julian civil calendar (in parts of Bulgaria)
    1920  CELast day of Julian civil calendar in Greece
    1923  CEUSSR adopts experimental calendar, with 5-day 'weeks'
    1925  CEPersia (Iran) adopts Khorshidi solar Hijrah calendar.
    1931  CEThe first International Conference on Calendar Reform
 27 Jun 1940  CEEnd of USSR experimental calendar; Gregorian readopted
  1941  CEArcher's "The Christian Calendar & the Gregorian Reform" published
1 Oct 1949  CEChina adopts the Gregorian calendar after a declaration by Mao Zedong.
  1957  CERepublic of India adopts Saka calendar along with Gregorian
29 Feb 1972  CEThe first leap second day; also 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985
  1972  CEAtomic time begins with the introduction of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This is defined as an exact number of oscillations of Cesium and is accurate to a billionth of a second per year.
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