Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Despite the absence of a planetary calendar, we are increasingly aware that the universal is the future of humanity.
Man has always been passionate about the division of time and its unfolding through the calendar. Changing the year means, after all, just one more day in the endless flow of time. Thus our history is made on calendars. Here we are in 2023. We are also in the year 1444 of Hegira for Muslims and in 2566 of the Buddhist era. Christians just celebrated Christmas and New Year, Jews celebrate the first day of Rosh Hashanah at another time, Chinese have their New Year while Muslims themselves await their hegira. The calendar is more than a device for dividing time or indicating days of the year, it designates the civil and religious holidays of a community and provides information about its way of life.
Already in the Paleolithic, prehistoric man had noticed climatic changes and the repetition of signs of plant life such as the fall of the leaves or the ripening of the fruits. Astronomical phenomena had then helped him to fix the references: sunrise or sunset, the moon and the movement of the stars. According to one hypothesis, the origin of the time estimation dates back to the development of agriculture and animal husbandry in the Neolithic.
It was only later, 4000 BC, in Egypt that the year was determined. The Egyptians had noticed that at regular intervals, a bright star in the sky, Sirius, reappeared on the horizon before dawn after an eclipse lasting several days. This phenomenon, called “heliacal lifting,” becomes a point of reference. A year of 365 days was the interval between two heliacal risings of Sirius. Or the birth of the Egyptian calendar, which has been in force for centuries in many countries.
The Gregorian calendar in universal use today, was born following the 1582 reform of the Julian calendar. Pope Gregory XIII wanted to remedy, among other things, a disagreement on the determination of the day on which the feast of Easter should be celebrated. He resisted all the projects that wanted to change him. Only the republican calendar invented by the Frenchman Fabre d’Églantine managed to eclipse it in 1793 for twelve short years. At that time, the New Year was celebrated on September 22nd.
The universal is the future of humanity
This universal calendar continues to fascinate. And the most modest, that of the poles, still hanging in the kitchens of France, is an original reading with sometimes unsuspected details on the particularities of the months, days, religious or civil holidays, eclipses of the moon or the sun.
Some calendar projects are being considered around the world. The most famous is that of a New York association for a world calendar, which proposes a year of four identical quarters of 91 days each. The 365and day, December 31, would be declared “out of the week” and should be a public holiday with the name of “world day”. All these projects have met with criticism especially from religions jealous of their celebrations. It is not easy to integrate all the diversities and customs of the world into the same single calendar. But more and more universal holidays and days are commonly celebrated. The calendar is the witness the time we have, of the passing of time, of the time we lose, of the misadventure… And despite the absence of a planetary calendar, we are becoming increasingly aware that the universal is the future of humanity. We are first and foremost passengers on a single boat, a planet that we should care for and protect in this moment of ecological peril. “Life is time given to freedom to learn to love”, wrote the Abbé Pierre