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Religious calendars

For Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish,
Mayan, Muslim, Secular, Sikh, Church of Satan,
Creativity Movement, Wiccan, & Zoroastrian faiths.

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Calendar SymbolDescription of secular and religious calendars:

The Gregorian Calendar is increasingly used for commerce world-wide. It is based upon the earlier Julian Calendar which was designed by Pagan priests in Rome circa 50 BCE. Julius Caesar had asked them to design a calendar that was more accurate than the ones which were in use at the time. During the Christian era, the calendar was adjusted so that DEC-25 of the year 1 BCE was believed to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. Today, most Christian theologians believe that Jesus was born sometime between 4 and 7 BCE, probably in the fall of the year.

Unfortunately, the Julian calendar was too long by about 11 minutes and 14 seconds each year, or one day every 128 years. By the late 16th century, this error had accumulated to an intolerable 10 days. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a study to decide how to correct it and how to prevent it from drifting in the future. The solution was to make most of the century years into non-leap years; only those which were evenly divisible by 400 (e.g. 1600, 2000, 2400 etc.) were to be leap years. Roman Catholic countries corrected the calendar by making 1582-OCT-15 CE follow OCT-4. In England, they made an 11 day correction; the day following 1752-SEP-2 was SEP-14. Riots were widespread among the public because many believed that they had lost 10 or 11 days of life. Greece did not convert to the Gregorian calendar until 1923.

There remain many religiously based calendars which are different from the Gregorian calendar. Some are:

bullet Most Eastern Orthodox Churches continue to use the Julian calendar. It is currently 13 days later than the Gregorian calendar. The gap continues to grow. When measured by the Gregorian calendar, they currently celebrate Christmas on JAN-7 and New Year's Day on January 14 . Romanian and Greek Orthodox do not follow this tradition.

bullet Buddist calendars vary according to location. In Thailand, the Gregorian Calendar was adopted on 1941-JAN-01 except that the year numbering was altered.  The starting year was 2484 BE, and was based on the estimated year the death of  Gautama Buddha. . "Since that date, the Thai Buddhist Era "BE" equals that of the Gregorian Calendar (CE) plus 543 years. Wikipedia describes a number of other Buddhist Calendars. 4

bullet The Jewish calendar is based on an estimate of the start of human civilization which they believe began with the exit of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden during 3761 BCE. The abbreviation "AM" for Anno Mundi is used. The Jewish calendar is moon-based. An additional month is added every third or fourth year. Thus, their year is of 354 to 385 days in duration.

bullet The Islamic calendar is based upon 622 CE, the year of the Hegira, when the Prophet Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina. The abbreviation "H" or "AH" is used after the date; it stands for "Hegira" or "Anno Hejira". It is a lunar calendar that repeats itself every 30 years. Year 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 24, 26 and 29 are leap years and have 355 days. Common (non leap years) have 354 days. That is 11 days shorter than the solar year. When measured by the Gregorian calendar, about three times a century, Muslims can celebrate two new years. In some countries, each lunar month begins with the visible sighting of the crescent of the new moon. A month, and thus a holy day, is often delayed a day from the time that astronomical calculations would predict them. Other countries use a calculated date for the new moon and don't rely on sightings.

bullet The Hindu calendar is based upon the start of the Saka Era in 78 CE. The date is often followed by the letters SE. The original base date for the calendar was at a planetary alignment involving Jupiter in 3102 BCE.
 
bullet The Sikh calendar is based on the start of the Khalsa Era three centuries ago. Their year begins on Apr-13 or 14. The date is often followed by the letters KE.

bullet The Baha'i calendar began when the Bab declared that a new Manifestation of God would shortly appear. The beginning of the Baha'i Era occurred in 1260 AH which is 1844 CE. Their calendar has 19 months, each with 19 days, for a total of 361 days per year. The letters BE stand for "Baha'i Era."

bullet The traditional Zoroastrian calendar is composed of 12 months, each containing 30 days. The final month has 5 "gatha" days added. Initially, an additional month of 30 days was added once every 120 years. The base year for the calendar is the date of the coronation of the last Zoroastrian Sasanian King, Yazdegird II in 631 CE. 1368 Y overlaps 1999 CE. The Iranian Zoroastrians stopped adding this additional month in 1009 CE; Their fellow believers in India stopped in 1129 CE. New Year has been gradually moving earlier (about 1 day every 4 years) from its original date in mid-March. It now occurs in the Fall. Mr. Khurshedji Cama proposed a revised calendar in 1906 CE. It follows the Gregorian leap-year system and has New Year permanently fixed on MAR-21. This calendar is used by Zoroastrians around the world, except India. 8

bullet The Creativity Movement (formerly called the World Church of the Creator (W.C.O.T.C.) is a racist, anti-communist, and homophobic religious group centered in Illinois. They base their calendar on 1973 CE --the date that the first edition of their book "Nature's Eternal Religion" was published. This is regarded as the year in which the group was founded. They have abandoned the Gregorian calendar. 1973 is considered the Incepto de Creativitat (Inception of Creativity), or I.C.  Years following are called "Anno de Creativitat." Thus, 1974 CE is called 1 A.C. The years before I.C. are called Prius Creativitat (Before Creativity). One of their main holidays is West Victory Day, held each DEC-29. It commemorates the "white" victory over the last organized resistance during the Native American genocide in 83 PC (1890 CE).

bullet The Church of Satan was organized by Anton La Vey (1930-1997) in the year 1966. He defined that as "the year One", Anno Satanas—the first year of the Age of Satan. His calendar uses the Gregorian Calendar, but renumbers the years. Year 2011 in the Gregorian Calendar is year XLVI A.S. So, they observed Halloween that year on OCT-31, XLVI A.S.

bullet The Mayan calendar expresses a date in a complex five number format. e.g. 6.19.18.1.5  means:
bullet 6 Baktun, an interval of 144,000 days (almost 400 years),
bullet 19 Katun (generations) of 7200 days (almost 20 years),
bullet 18 Tun (years) of 360 days,
bullet 1 Uinal (month) of 20 days,
bullet 5 Kin (days)
bullet for a total of 1,007,305 days. 

J.Eric Thompson determined that the first day of the Mayan calendar (0.0.0.0.0) was on 3114-AUG-11 BCE. 9 They believed that the planet Venus was born on that day. Another source says AUG-13 of the same year. Mayans also had a "Great Cycle of the Long Count" of 13 Baktuns or 5,125.36 years. There are many books written in anticipation of the end of the world at the Winter Solstice, 2012-DEC-21 or 13.0.0.0.0 in the Mayan notation. 10 This appears to be a hoax generated by a group of authors who have combined the end of the world scenario found in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) with the Mayan belief in a cyclical, repeating universe. According to records left by the Mayan the only event expected on that day is the return of a god-man to Earth. There are hundreds of glyphs that predict various other events happening after the end of 2012.

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Relationships among religious calendars:

The first day of various religious years fell on the following dates in 1996-1997 in the Gregorian Calendar:

Gregorian
Calendar Date
Start of Religious Year Religion
1996-JAN-01 1996 Secularists, western Christianity, etc.
1996-JAN-01 8 I.C. Creativity movement
1996-JAN-01 30 A.S. Church of Satan
1996-JAN-01 2539 BE (Buddhist Era) Thai solar calendar (Buddhism)
1996-JAN-14 1996 Eastern Orthodox (most)
1996-SEP-14 5757 AM Judaism
1996-OCT-31 1996 Wiccan (at sunset, Samhain)
1997-MAR-21 ** 153 BE (Baha'i era) Baha'i
1997-MAR-22 1919 SE Hinduism
1997-APR-13 * 299 KE Sikh
1997-MAY-09 1418 H Islam

* Approximate date.

** Except in the Middle East

JewishGen® provides a guide to Jewish genealogical research. One service is an online calendar that converts Gregorian to Jewish dates and back. For example St. Patrick's day on 1999-MAR-17 is also 5759 Adar(I) 29. 1 Another web site, Panda Systems, offers a free calendar conversion program for the MacOS which works among Julian, Gregorian and Jewish calendar systems. 2

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Related essay:

bullet Religious seasonal days of celebration and holy days

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References:

  1. JOS calendar conversion is at: http://www1.jewishgen.org/jos/josdates.htm
  2. Panda Systems' freeware program is at: http://www.pandacorner.com/PandaSystems/
  3. See FSN Calendar for other calendars, including calendars related to: Bible prophecy, Chinese, Catholic liturgical year, Judaism, Advent, Aztec, Islamic, Interfaith, and Zoroastrian.
  4. "Buddhist calendar," Wikipedia, as on 2011-NOV-18, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2011-DEC-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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