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Yet another calendar year has gone and come, and don’t we all say, "how time flies?" Thinking of this made me think about the origin of calendars. What if there were no calendars - how or where would the world be? Definitely, different. Calendars in one form or another have been there for a long time. Even without the sophisticated gadgets that we have today, the calendar cycle had been determined centuries back and that too in multiple civilizations.
Some civilizations were using natural cycles: days, lunar cycles (months), and solar cycles (years). Pundits knew centuries ago that the year has 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds long or 365.242199 days. The time between full moons is 29.53 days.
Various people attempted to organize these cycles into calendars to keep track of time and be able to predict future events of importance to them, such as, for the ancient Egyptians the annual Nile floods. The challenge was that these natural cycles do not divide evenly. So a month measured by the moon doesn't equal an even number of days, and a solar year is not equal to a certain number of moon cycles (months or "moon"ths). But they managed.
From the multitude of calendars over history, the Gregorian calendar dominates today’s world. January is the start and December the end of the year. There are however regions and cultures where different calendars are still being observed. These include the Chinese New Year, Navroz (Persian/Central Asian New Year), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish), Muharram (Islamic), Deepwali (Hindu), etc. As we become more and more a “global village” we tend to adapt to one uniform system for a lot of things and for calendar it is the Gregorian era.
However, unknown to most, as recent as 2002 there was an attempt by one country to rename the Calendar months. The Central Asian country of Turkmenistan, under instructions of the country’s then lifetime president, who held the title of Turkmenbasy (meaning: leader of Turkmen) passed legislation and changed the names of the 12 months and the 7 days of the week. So January was renamed as Turkmenbasy and April went to Gurbansoltan Eje - after his mother. Certainly, a novel idea - why not name these after your own heroes rather then people with whom the country has very little association. However, two years after his death, in 2008, the country officially reverted to the old names. So to see the interesting names Turkmenistan picked up for their calendar, click here.
As this year comes to an end we take this opportunity to wish you the very best of health, happy traveling, interesting encounters with peoples of different lands leading to building a growth in understanding different cultures. After all, traveling is nothing but that.
For those of us who have had the good fortune of visiting distant lands, we are certainly very fortunate. We should spread our experiences of pluralism to our friends and neighbours.