So, calendar season 2020 is upon us. Orders for the 2021 calendars have been placed, and backroom techies are busy ensuring that they are error-free and pleasing to the eye, and that Easter is shown in paschal red.
There has been one earlier version, but the calendar we use is the Gregorian. It was promulgated by Papal Bull in mid-October, 1582. The calendar was first and foremost a religious document, concerned primarily with the dating of Easter. In that regard, and taken with its predecessor of a thousand years, the calendar and the Bible have been with us from antiquity.
British Honduras, as part of the British Empire, adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. At that time, the 1st of January was recognized internationally as New Year’s Day, even though a year didn’t end until 24th March. Events occurring between January 1st and March 24th, therefore, were dated the year before. Someone born on February 25th, 1750 (say), would list 1749 as his/her birth year.
Even in our digital age, which has seen the calendar integrated into every electronic device, we continue to look forward to a Christmas calendar. Our instinct to connect drives us to have at least one somewhere in the house. Do we really need it? After all, even the antiquated flip-phone can answer the question: What day was June 1st 1797? Three taps get you the answer—a Thursday. One can’t do that with a calendar.
To make up, calendar design has taken off as an art form, commercialized to the Nth. They engage us in the funny and salacious; the patriotic and unabashed cockamamie; the sentimental and studious. Reprints of 12 of Norman Rockwell’s most well-liked paintings appeared on a 2011 (I believe) calendar. I kept his rendition titled “Marriage License” for many years. It captured the excitement of a young couple as they stood at the clerk’s desk waiting for him to finish the document.
Some calendars show internationally celebrated days, historical heroes (religious, political, industry), National Days around the world, holidays, and the like. In 2004 we visited Mérida and brought back a calendar that listed all the Saint’s Days. What got me hooked was seeing a saint’s name for each day in the year. Or almost! Didn’t know that. I still have that calendar.
Not to be left behind, international organizations like the World Bank also publish their calendars. Pricey but good for the money if that’s what works for you.
Calendars, then, are entertaining, informative, titillating, handy and inexpensive. They adorn our walls and desk tops, and the really good ones linger on in memory.
In the morning rush from the house, you grab the garage door opener, fumble the button on the remote key, run over the dashboard lights, engage the ignition and buckle up. As you pull out you glance at the Gregorian (large print), on the wall above the freezer and realize it’s the last day of the month and you need to flip the page later. The eye-brain linkup taps into your memory storehouse, reminding you that the repair shop called about your lawnmower bill.
The last thing you note is that this is 2020, a Leap Year. Nothing to it. Oh?
Years that end with “00” are known as a “centurial” years—like 1800, 1900, 2000 etc. But they are Leap Years only if they are divisible by 400. So 2000 was a Leap Year, but not 1900. Nor will 2100. Not that it will matter—for most of us anyway.
Just centuries-old Papal Bulls stuff!