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Nina: Nana what are your new year’s resolutions?
Nana: To eat, sleep and enjoy life. But you make it so difficult. What are your resolutions?
Nina: I’ll do mine in March or April.
Nana: Make sure one of them is to stop procrastinating. Whoever waits till March to make new year’s resolutions?
Nina: The new year used to begin in March. Spring signifies hope and is an excellent time for new beginnings.
Nana: That’s true in India. The Maharashtrians celebrate Gudi Padwa in March, on the first day of Chaitra, while Bengalis, Punjabis and Tamilians celebrate their new year in April on the first day of Vaishakh. Most Indian cultures celebrate new year in either March or April. But now everyone, including your school, follows the Gregorian calendar. So stop procrastinating.
Nina: But Nana, even in Rome, the year used to begin in March. It is possible that, early on the Roman calendar had only 10 months starting with March and ending with December. This decimal version fitted well with usual Roman systems. So September was the 7th month, October the 8th and so on.
Nana: Then who developed the current calendar? Martians?
Nina: Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was its calendar. The ten month calendar had only 304 days and winter was an unnamed month. It was all quite chaotic with seasons drifting and priests coming up with stop gap solutions. At some point January and February were added as the last couple of months of the year, and then later January was promoted to first month, possibly in 450 BC.
Nana: Whoopee. Now go away.
Nina: Wait Nana. There is more.
Nana: More? <Sigh>
Nina: Yes. Julius Caesar knocked some sense in to the system. The Julian calendar year had 365 days with every 4th year being a leap year with an extra day in February. But even that was causing a drift in seasons over millennia because the year is actually a little less that 365 and a quarter days. So, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582 AD that fixes this error by considering every year divisible by 4 a leap year unless it is also divisible by 100 but not 400. Years like 1800 that are divisible by 100 but not 400 are not leap years, while years like 2000 which are divisible by 100 and 400 are leap years. And as you said the Gregorian calendar is what we use today.
Nana: Phew! That was a brain twister. So are you going to make your resolutions now?
Nina: No Nana. The financial year still ends in March and the academic year usually in March or April. So if you ask me, it is more meaningful to make resolutions in those months.
Nana: My goodness, I have never met anyone who puts so much effort in to procrastination. You’re an oxymoron! Now shoo.
This post is written in partnership with Lavanya Srinivasan.