History of Calendars

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have kept track of time by the moon, the stars, and the sun.

In Africa and Europe, archeologists have found notched bones – used to record moon phases.

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, Babylonians worshipped the moon. Months began and ended with the full moon. At the full moon, the half moon, and the new moon, they would take a day off from work to rest and worship. This meant that a holy day (holiday) would occur about every 7 days. The Babylonians called this day “Sappatu”. The Babylonians had Jewish slaves who called this day the Sabbath. Eventually, every week became 7 days because 7 became an important number: some considered it magic or mystical. This is because astronomers had found 7 planets in the night sky (the word planet means “wanders the universe”). The planets were thought to be (or represent) the gods and each day of the week was named after the planets.

Our current names for the days derive from these original names in the following way:

  • Sunday = the Sun's day
  • Monday = the Moon's day
  • Tuesday = Tiw's day (a Norse name for Mars)
  • Wednesday = Woden's day (Woden is the Norse name for Mercury, the messenger)
  • Thursday = Thor's day (Thor is the Norse name for Jupiter, the supreme Roman god)
  • Friday = Frigg's day (Frigg is the Norse name for Venus)
  • Saturday = Saturn's day (Roman god of Agriculture)

Today, there are approximately 40 different types of calendars in use, including: the Gregorian (most common), the Hebrew, the Indian, the Islamic, the Persian, the Chinese, the Ethiopian, the Tibetan, the Buddhist, and the Balinese Pawukon.

The oldest known calendar is a Lunar Calendar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland which was constructed around 8,000 BC, using a series of earthen ‘pits’.

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