The Modern Calendar

It struck me the other day that our calendar, on which we base all planned activities, meetings, appointments, and season premieres no longer makes sense. Let's run down the list chronologically, shall we?

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. Sept---

Ok, stop right there. Sept-. Obviously the same prefix used in Septagon, a seven-sided polygon. There should be more examples of this prefix in common use, but seven is an underused and underappreciated number. Suffice it to say that, by all accounts of logic, September should be the seventh month of the year.

Now we've got OCTober NOVember and DECember. Latin prefixes for 8, 9, and 10, respectively, but yet these months, in sequence, occur 10th, 11th, and 12th, respectively.

So who's to blame for this blatant error in organizing our calendar? The Greeks.

More specifically, Julius Cæsar. Here's a guy so full of himself, so pompous, so arrogant, that he decrees that all who participate in civilization spend a month writing down his name on their checkbooks and homework assignments. Not only that, but he has to have a month with the most days in it to bear his name, so he takes the month between two 30-day months.

Then, along comes Augustus, who thinks equally too much of himself and does the same thing. Only this time, he royally screws up the whole alternating 30-31 month scheme so brilliantly devised by the calendar makers by demanding to be placed directly after Julius' month and having the same number of days in his month.

"Not possible!" argued those who cared. "There aren't enough days to go around!"
"Nonsense. I'll take a day from February. Nobody likes February. It's too cold then, and it gets an extra day every 4 years anyway. Shortening February will make my subjects happier because it brings March closer to reality. In a poll I commissioned in Athens, March is the most popular month in the year by an overwhelming margin of 38%."

So now, the formerly 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th months, while unimaginatively named, have been shoved later into the year and associated with numbers that made no contextual sense.

As I see it, there are two possible rectifications to this dilemma that people have ignored for 2500 years. We can change the names to 9/November, 10/December, 11/Undecember, and 12/Dodecember. Alternatively, we can begin the year in March (The internationally most popular month of the year) as the first month and renumber. The 7th-10th months will fall where they belong, and January and February fall into place at numbers 11 and 12.

This also rectifies another problem with the annual dividing line. By beginning the year with March, it coincides with the first real season of the year, spring. January and February's winter is left over from the previous year and provides confusion when signs are erected indicating that a new strip mall will be open for business in Winter, 2003. Which winter? The close one, or the one 17 months away?

Now, obviously, I alone do not have the power to make these changes, I've just presented a proposal for the way things could be in a more logical society. If you agree with one of the two proposed changes detailed above, feel free to email or fax a copy of this proposal to your governmental representative and urge them to get the ball rolling on legislation that will put this into effect.

Or you could continue wallowing in the ignorance that 7 means 9.

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