NEW MONTHS IN THE YEAR -------------------- John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc email@example.com www.nyskies.org 2012 February 18
Introduction ---------- Ever since the attempted deplaneatization of plant Pluto in 2006 there arose awripple effect among those wanting to straighten glitches in modern society. On top of this movement was the ongoing broohaha about astrology. Its signs are slipped against the constellations, upsetting any meaning they could have in horoscopes. Among the irregularities in society today that comes under scrutiny for fixup is the western calendar. It has months whose names no longer line up with their position in the year. This has to be fixed! Here I summarize the new dialog, without takng sides as such. This piece here is a descreription of the debate and not an argument for one faction or an other.
The months -------- The western calendar is the linear descendent of the Roman calendar with the names of the months long ago rendered into English. The Romans, after centuries of capricious and erroneous calendars scattered thruout the empire, settled on a twelve month system. There were two minds about when to start the year. One began the year in January, named for Janus, a god who who looked both back into the old year and front into the new one. The other started the year in the spring season, in March, banking off of the annual cycle of life in the north temperate latitudes of Earth. Both systems were in circulation in the empire. The months alternated between 31 and 30 days in length to help align the lunar phase cycle with the solar year. The last month February fell short, being that the 365 days in the year do not divide up evenly into 30s and 31s. February had the leftover 29 days. Not 28, as I explain below. Five months of 30 days, plus six of 31 days, plus February's 29 made 365 days. There was no leapday and the calendar dates rapidly slided against the seasons. Uncoordinated and arbitrary adjustments were made, which made correlation of dates across the empire very difficult. The names for the first four months, in the start-in-spring system, do not embed their location within the year: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius. Starting with month #5, they were named Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, December. The final two months also had no placement in their names, Januarius and Februarius.
Julius Caesar ----------- In the 40s BC emperor Julius Caesar reformed the calendar to clear up the discrepancies from rampant reckless adjustments every where in the empire. He declared a new round of calendar dates and introduced the leapyear scheme. He began the year in March with the vernal equinox on March 25th. He knew from his astronomers that the year was not a whisker less than 365-1/4 day long. He believed the error from assuming an exact 365-1/4 day length was too small to worry about. He decreed that our modern year 47BC is a leapyear and that leapdays must be added every four years. To congratulate himself he renamed Quintilis after himself, Julius. By chance Julius had 31 days. Julius's system broke down after he died under Halley's comet. Leapdays were added haphazardly, quickly unraveling a uniform date system in the Roman world.
Augustus Caesar ------------- Emperor Augustus made a new effort to fix the calendar. He asserted 8AD as a leapyear, with leapdays added every four years. Ny his time the Roman world was peaceful, more or less, and the people were better ready to accept a standard uniform calendar. In Augustus's time there was no year count like ours. The Romans would not have honored the Nativity by counting years from that event! The current year count came in the mid 500s, well after the Roman Empire disintegrated. . Augustus was pleased with his work and took Sextilis for his own month Augustus. He saw that it had only 30 day! He grabbed one from the end of the year, Febraury 29th, tacked it onto his new month, and that's how we got our jumbled 30-31 mix of days. February was cut to the normal 28 days, 29 in leapyear. It s by sheer luck that 8AD is an exact multiple of four, making it easy to remember when to add the leapday. When a year number is evenly divided by four, that year is a leapyear. End of story. Augustus was pleased with his work and took Sextilis for his own renamed month Augustus. He saw that it had only 30 day! He grabbed one from the end of the year, Febraury 29th, tacked it onto his new month, and that's how we got our jumbled 30-31 mix of days. February was cut to the normal 28 days, 29 in leapyear.
Ancient dates ----------- Very stricta mente we have a stable leapyear scheme only from 8AD and forward. Before then we had a jumbled leapyear system back to the 40s BC. Before then we had only local calendars, often erraticly tied to the seasonal cycle. For history and astronomy we exercise the leapday system for all time in the past before 8AD adding the extra day every fourth year without exception. This is the Julian proleptic calendar. It applies every where in the world, evnn parts beyond Roman influence. That's why you read about the simultaneous Jupiter-SAturn-Sun conjunction during February 2012BC. Of course there was no 'February' or '2012BC' in the contemporary culture back then. It's the month that coincides with the event as taken from the Julian calendar extended back into that era. After the Roman influence waned in the 400s and Europe entered the Dark Ages, the leapyear feature endured without serious challenege. The Julius Caesar calendar system with the Augustus cleanup, is the present Julian calendar. Many cultures today, some 3 millennia later, still are governed by this calendar.
Year start -------- In the Mediaeval era the practice grew to start the year in January, not March. This was likely part of the Christian observance of the Nativity in December near the winter solstice. Gradually March as the starting month was abandoned. When the year starts in January, February is the 2nd month. Yet it keeps its old 28 days! There was no attempt to shift days from the new last month of December to fill out February to 30 days. An intermediate step was taken by some countries, the start change taking place along national lines. This was to have the year start in January but the number of the year straddles it into the former last month of February. To make sure the reader knew what year is meant, a double-year notation was applied. This didn't work well at all. Country by country at some point over the centuries aligned the year number to the new sequence of months. The final year under the double-number scheme was a short year, starting in March and ending in the following December. The January after that began with the next year number and everything then after fell into place. If you think this transition was confusing and upsetting, yes, it was. But we did it. When you crossed a country frontier you could also shift calendar date.
Gregorian reform -------------- By the 1500s the every-four-year rule for leapdays accumulated serious slippage between dates and seasons. More critical was the problems of fixing the date of Easter. The error came from the tiny dispersion of the actual year length from 365-1/4 days. We were adding too many leapdays. The slivers of a day very four years piled up to about 10 days by the 1500s. Pope Gregorius first dropped the extra days by declaring that 1581 October 5 is followed by October 16. There is no such a date in western history as October 13 in 1581. The other major reform was to omit excess leapdays, being three extra days every four hundred years. He did this by asserting that when a century year is divided evenly by 400 it is a leapyear. A century year NOT evenly divided by 4 is a lean year with only 365 days. The initial century leapyear was 1600. The next and immediately previous century leapyear was 2000. The Gregorian calendar took centuries to percolate thruout the world, with some countries holding to the Julian calendar until the early 20th century. The speed of conversion was along national and ethnic boundaries. Perhaps the most famous conversion is for the Soviet Union. Its Great October Revolution took place under the Julian calendar but in recent years it was celebrated in November under the Gregorian calendar. By then the disparity between the two calendars was 13 days, throwing the new date into the next month.
The Caesars --------- Without doubt our culture today, both in the Americas and in Europe, is founded on the Roman Empire. So very much of our society derives from the Romans besides the calendar. Many oldstyle weights and measures, the spacing of rails on train tracks, government procedures, height of shipping platforms for trucks, American civil law, architecture, military tactics, language, mythology, engineering come recta mente from the Romans. These are only a few examples. Rome was a dictatorship under the emperors. They ruled by decree with almost no challenge except military overthrow. The caesars were ruthless with enemies and conquered lands. They followed decadent lifestyles larded with conspicuous consumption. They staged mock battles in the stadia with real casualties. They exercised appalling crudelity toward animals and captives. The crucifixion was merely a normal way to execute criminals. While, yes, we owe probably without overstating matters, our very civilization to the Romans, it remains in the shadow of our hearts that we honor, twice each year!, examples of the most deprived and perverse rulers in human history. If you really want to learn how Augustus treated alternative belief systems and cultures in the eastern Mediterranean lands, please inquire at the Christians and Jews. The thumbprint of the caesars is pressed deep onto on the history of both cultures today.
Modern dictators -------------- We live with Julius and Augustus every summer, as surely as if we had months names for Stalin and Hitler. Both Hitler and Stalin did wonderful good for their countries, lifting them from ruins after World War I to superpowers in the mid and late 20th century. Both Russia under Stalin and Germany under Hitler were genuine political, social and military challenges against the United States. I do have to back off a bit. Hitler gave us the rocket that enabled the realization of the ago-old dream of space travel. He also gave us the darling car of the 1960s beatnik, the Volkswagen. He also gave us the Voigtlander camera, Zeiss planetarium, Schott optics firm, Zeppelin dirigible, to cite only a few more benefits. Stalin's successors, who continued his oppressive regime, gave us sporting and sparring to develop our spacefaring capability. Some spacefaring advocates feel that without these two fellows the notion of traveling to other worlds, like to the Moon in 1969 and maybe Mars in the 2030s, would still be a laughable fantasy. In spite of this boon to humanity, of many they did provide, I can't see that any one in his right mind will seriously argue to commemorate these gentlemen with so prominent and prestigious an honor as a whole effing month! Yep, do ask a Christian or Jew about Stalin or Hitler. Please do this before eating a meal. That's what we got for Julius and Augustus. Remember, monuments to these caesars and to myriads of other badniks crumbled over the ages. Some are now mere footnotes on maps. The names of the months endured, essentially without any success to change them. A month name is about as permanent a monument you can hope for.
What to do? --------- It took some massive propaganda to unseat Pluto from planetitude. A whole new planetarium was built in New York City that simply omitted Pluto from the ranks of planets. It had exhibits and decorations for all of the planets except Pluto. It stages every so often explanations why Pluto can not be a planet. Its crew even got the International Astronomical Union in 2006 to go along with a resolution to relieve Pluto of planet status. That effort hasn't been all that happily received among astronomers. Most that I deal with simply disregard the IAU decree about Pluto. Pluto is a planet, thank you very much. What now about the names of the months? We probably have to try an attitude like for astrology with its signs versus constellations. Go and debunk the month names! In as much as astronomy's traditional function was keeping time and knowing that the calendar changes discussed above were based on astronomical principles, why not start trashing out July and August? In the initial campaign we could refuse to accept dates in 'July' ad 'August' as disqualifying, bogus, phony. It turns out that many astronomy clubs do suspend operations in the summer season during July and August at least. Can it be that they already are signaling their disavowal of these month names? It could be happening already silently and quietly.
The full solution --------------- A proper fix would excise July and August completely from the calendar and replace them with more beneficent months. It turns out that this is real easy to do! We already GOT months named for numbers 7 thru 10. July is month #7; August, #8. Slide September, October, November, December up two months to sit now in their proper numerical places. The month after June is September. The 10th month of the year is, ta-TAH!, December. This leaves two months, the former November and December, with no names. We'll continue the number and call them Undember and Duodember for 11th and 12th month. The new list of months is ---------------------------------------- 1 - January 2 - February 3 - March 4 - April 5 - May 6 - June 7 - September 8 - October 9 - November 10 - December 11 - Undember 12 - Duodember --------------------------------------------
Three ways to do it ----------------- There are three schools as I know for the number of days in the new months. One says that we merely change the name sign over the old month, nailing the 'September' over the old 'July'. The days and other calendar attributes of the 7th month remain as are, with 31 days. So it is for the other months. Undember has the 30 days of former November and Duodember has the 31 days of former December.
Second level revision ------------------- The second camp asserts that the attributes of new September and other months go with the name. The new 7th month now has the 30 days of old September and the new 10th month has the 31 days of old December. Undember and Duodember take up the pattern by having 30 and 31 days.
Third level revision ------------------ The third school seeks to regularize the day counts across the months into a neat 31-30 alternation. June has 30 days, then the remaining months have 31, 30 days. Duodember has 30 day, then January has 31. February gets the leftover days, 29 of them. February gains one day for a lean year and a second one, for 30 in all, in leapyear. The latter two schemes, with rearranged series of days per month, will completely ruin all computer code for calendar maths! Unless some preliminary inspection of the date is done first, to segregate the old from the new set, any maths on the dates will be erroneous to the max. I myself believe that the first, simplest, change is sufficient. The NAME of the months are straightened out, leaving intact all the attributes within the months alone.
Holidays ------ The treatment of holidays presents is not trivial. Of all the intriguing and weird ways I heard of to place the present holidays into the new set of months, none really work. It is probably best leave holidays in their present relative places within the year. A day in the eighth month now remains in the new eighth month. Independence Day is September 4th. Labor Day is the first Monday of November. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of Undember. Christmas remains the Duodember 25th. New Year's Eve is Duodember 31st. These are examples from American holidays. Other countries may fit their own holidays into the new sequence of months. Attempting to move the holidays with the months doesn't work. There is no longer a 'July' and 'August'. Dates in these months fall orphaned and must be arbitrated somewhere else in the new sequence of months. Undember and Duodember never had a history of holidays and don't easily generate new ones. One proposal is to shift all the July and August holidays into Undember and Duodember but I couldn't find any one who seriously entertained this idea. American Independence Day, now on July 4th, would move to Undemver 4th. This is a shift from summer to fall for a holiday that has a vigorous summer-based activity.
Mindset shift ----------- Will the change of names louse up every body's sense of time? If we give a date as 'September 23' it can be 'old 9th month, 23rd say' or 'new 7th month, 23rd day'. This can cause missed appointments and deadlines for sure. You noticed how quickly and casually people adjusted to the 24-hr clock? No one seriously mistakes an hour cited in 24-hr mode over one in the old 12-12 mode. A voiced over time, like in transport depots, is equa mente in 12-12 and 24-hr mode. No one choked. Remember the radio alphabet: 'Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Eagle, ...'? Suddenly, in the 1980s, the US went to the NATO set of words: 'Alpha, Bravo,Charlie, Delta, Echo, ...'. No one choked. How about in the 1960s when temperatures were changed from centigrade to Celsius or cycles/second to Hertz? No one choked. At first there can be confusion but in New York we have a similar situation of name changes every couple years. After the initial disorientation, every one clicks into the new scheme. Place names are routinely changed, like streets and buildings. The PanAm building is now MetLife building; Triboro Bridge is now Robert Kennedy Bridge; Interboro Parkway is now Jackie Robinson Parkway; Lenox Av is now Malcom X Bv; Starrett City is now Towers at Spring Creek; Broadway-Nassau station is now Fulton St station; Lawrence St station is now Jay St-MetroTech station; and on and on. These name changes come sporadicly, sometimes with no warning. You just see the new name tablet where the old one was. In an other series of name changes the New York subway lines are commonly called by the routes that work them. The 7th Av line is called the '1, 2, 3' line because routes #1, #2, #3 operate on it. The West End line is called the 'D' line after route D that now runs in it. Routes can -- and do! -- switch around frequently. In some cases the change is daily or horary, like day versus night service. The Montague Tunnel line has either route R or N in it, but not both together. It's called the 'N, R' line any way. When services are revised every couple years, the lines also change names. The line named 'D' was in various years the Brighton line, Culver line, and West End line. Reading old litterature, like travel instructions, can really get you good and lost. A worse situation is when you seek a line but ask for it by its route. If you ask for the 'M' train when you really want the Nassau St line you will end up on the 6th Av line. Route M was diverted from Nassau St to 6th Av a couple years ago. It really takes only one or two mistakes to set you straight. It seems that after the first few days of miscalling a line after the change, people seem to adjust well. On a national scale, we had in the US the change of endpoints for Daylight Savings Time. It used to start on the first Sunday of April. Computers and automatic clocks were built with this rule in their works. Now the rule is that Daylight Savings Time starts on the second Sunday in March. For the first couple years there were mixups. Yet after then every one just accepts the new rule. It seems that for the names of the months, a similar startup confusion will prevail, maybe for a few months. Then suddenly every one understands the new system and takes off with it. You'll only have to show up at the pier two months late for an October cruise to learn that 'October' now really is the 8th month and no longer the 10th.
Coding and writing ---------------- Virtually all computer coding for calendar maths uses numbers for the months. When you key in September' or pick it from a list, it is translated to '9'. Under the new scheme, after the changeover date, the coding is '7'. The action is transparent to the operator. I assume this scenario implies ONLY the switching of names and NOT revising the day counts or other attributes. It'll be like entering dates in Julian or Gregorian form. A tick box tells which is intended. Or, like the October 1581 dates, the computer code knows that dates up to October 5 in 1581 are Julian and aft dates from October 16 are Gregorian. It rejects dates in between. A similar tactic is done with Daylight Savings Time. A computer accepts times on the initial date of DST up to 01:59:59. The very next acceptable second for entry is 03:00:01. It tosses as invalid an entry like 02:11:22, there being no such a time when DST begins. In handwritten work, it's already best to write the month as a numeral. '18 December 2018' is now '18.XII.2018' and becomes after the switch '18.X.2018'. What ever NAME you call it, it's the TENTH month. Announcements, notices, other dated material during the transition period could adopt an all-number method for writing dates. 'The film plays 12.VIII thru 10.IX' prevents thinking that the film is running in old August thru old September. It runs in new October thru new November, the new 8th and 9th month.
Acceptance -------- Unlike the train routes in New York, a person loses nothing by accepting the new order of months. Riding the M route over Williamsburgh Bridge toward Manhattan, under the belief you're heading into Lower Manhattan. will send you into midtown, good and far from Lower Manhattan. You lose time and gain agida. Going with the new names of the months has minimal affect on your daily routine. It's actually easier to know that November, the 9th month of the year, means the year is about 3/4 over and fall begins within it. Where can the impetus for this calendar shift come from? Obviously from the folk most vested in time keeping, the astronomers! Observatories, planetaria, astronomy clubs, astronomy services, all can mount a unified campaign to instruct the public to the benefits, and minimal malefits, of getting the months back in order. Just like for astrology and Pluto, they can stage shows to boost the plan, explain it, demonstrate its scientific rectitude. Such erudition and edification of the public are what these organizations are built for, right? An other grand ally is the media industry. It can in coordination with the astronomers. start citing dates in the new system. Jingos, skits, puppets, cartoons, posters can be used to prepare for the coming change.
Conclusion -------- I didn't find a bonafide agitator for the realignment of the months as at February 2012. The dialog I came across is from isolated groups or persons who muse about getting the world back in order after the Romans left town. The debacle of planet Pluto and the continual flap about signs and constellations in the zodiac added at least a flash of activity to the new-months movement. The closest I found, in 2011, was a call to stop precessing star positions every half century. Why not keep to one epoch, say 2000, from now on? Let computers do the precession as needed banked off of the one single universal permanent catalog data? This theme looks marginal at best, altho it would save a lot of trees in printing new atlases and catalogs every few decades. Can you simply begin right now to use the new months? Indirectly you can. Start writing dates only in number form to the maximum extent feasible. When stating a month by name, note that it's the new place- in-year month. Try issuing schedules and almanacs with the new months with explanatory instructions. Lobby politicians to adopt the new plan within your county or state. I suspect there will be an uphill struggle to revise the months. It took emperors and popes to make previous reforms and some weren't accepted until centuries later. On the other hand, place name and train ro/ute changes are issued by low-level burocrats. You can take hope from that planetarium in New York where thru its gigantic glass front you see all of the planets hanging from the roof beams, except Pluto.