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Debate: Calendar reform

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Should the Gregorian calendar be reformed and worldwide calendars standardized?

Background and context

This is an interesting proposition, if one that is not taken particularly seriously. Past suggestions to reform the Gregorian calendar have all failed in the face of tradition, convenience and apathy. Three of the most common proposals for reform are as follows. [1] The World Calendar is based on a 52-week, 364-day year, starting on Sunday, January 1st; the 365th day has no day of the week and is called ‘Year-End Day’; and in leap years a Leap-Year Day is inserted between June and July. January, April, July and October all have 31 days, and the rest 30. [2] The International Fixed Calendar divides the year into 13 months of 28 days each, with the 365th day (‘Year Day’) outside the months, and a Leap Day after June 28th in leap years. All months begin on Sundays, and the new, seventh month is known as Sol. [3] The Perpetual Calendar has four 3-month quarters, each beginning on a Monday. Like the previous two, an extra Year-End Day and Leap-Year Day are inserted.

Contents

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Consistency: Is the Gregorian calendar inconsistent?

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Yes

  • The Gregorian calendar is inconsistent. The Gregorian Calendar has 12 months of different length (with no month being 1/12 of the year), uneven half- and quarter-years, and no standard first day of the year or of any month. This makes financial planning in particular difficult, and public holidays are irregular. Some companies, such as Kodak, use the International Fixed Calendar to pay their employees; others work on the basis of thirteen months and give the last month’s pay as a Christmas bonus.


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No

  • National holidays would have to be changed under all of the proposed calendars. Regular religious observances would also be disturbed. The Millennium Bug scare at the end of 2000 showed us how costly re-adjusting the calendar can be in the workplace; the administrative and financial burden caused by introducing a new calendar is so immense as to make the idea unthinkable.


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Starting point: Is the Gregorian calendar starting point arbitrary?

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Yes

  • The Gregorian calendar is anachronistic; based on Christian history The Gregorian Calendar is fixed on the starting date of 1 A.D., which has significance only for Christians as the supposed date of Christ’s birth. Even the Christians are not united; some of the Eastern Orthodox Churches skipped the first 13 days of October 1923. A standard calendar for all religions and countries makes much more sense, fixed on a starting point in history with significance for all people.


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No

  • The Gregorian starting point is as good as any. Although the Gregorian Calendar had its origins in Christian history, it has its own significance by now. A standard calendar for all races and religions is utterly inappropriate; different cultures have different holidays, and their calendar should be appropriate to their traditions.


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Inevitable: Is calendar reform inevitable?

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Yes

  • Standardization of calendars is inevitable. History and the increasing globalisation of modern society has shown us that standardisation is inevitable. Just as the metric system is increasingly commonplace, decimalisation of time is sure to come as support for calendar reform grows. Standardised time systems are ever more important as business is conducted increasingly over the Internet.


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No

  • Calendar reform is not remotely inevitable. Given the total lack of support for change other than in radical fringe groups. If accounting departments want to follow different calendars to the rest of society, they can; calendar years, tax years and academic years are frequently different anyway.


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Argument #4 (this section needs standardizing)

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Yes

The calendar has been successfully reformed in the past; the Gregorian Calendar was only devised in 1582 (by Pope Gregory XIII). There would be a cost in reforming again, but this would be offset in the long-term by the savings due to simplification.

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No

Calendar reform has also failed in the past, e.g. the French Revolution Calendar, introduced in 1793 and disbanded again in 1806, or Russia where five-day weeks (without Saturday or Sunday) were temporarily implemented.


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Pro/con resources

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Yes

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No

See also

External links and resources:

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