This is our last article of the year and for today we thought about explaining why years change on January 1st or why the years counting will very soon get to 2014.
But before that let us thank Santa for the previous article on our blog, hope he’ll re-new the agreement with us next Christmas too!
“ORPALIS Blog featuring Santa Claus“, how cool this sounds?
Way cool, maybe too cool actually, it makes us think about the Amanita Muscaria hallucinogenic mushroom.
Ever heard of it?
According to some theories this mind-altering fungus explains mostly all elements of the story that children all over the world hear each Christmas.
Apparently its consumption by shamans in Arctic regions explains the North Pole origin of Santa Claus, its distribution among northern tribes members at Winter Solstice explains the gift-giving tradition, its red and white coat explains Christmas favorite colors, its natural location nearby conifers explains the Christmas tree, the top aperture in the igloos or teepees in which Northern tribesmen lived explains Santa’s option of entering houses via the chimney while the effects of its toxins on the brain explains the flying reindeers visions and all the rest.
Well maybe its hallucination-inducing effects also explains how such theory came to being in the first place, as it has many serious opponents in the world of science.
And besides, supposing for a moment all this is correct, which psychotropic drug should then take the blame for the bunnies and eggs at Easter?
But let’s quit rethoric questions for now and turn to real ones: ever wondered why the New Year starts on January 1st instead of say, November 5th?
To answer that, just a quick reminder first: the Earth spins around itself in a cycle called 1 day, it makes a complete voyage around the Sun in a cycle called 1 year and the 1 year trip of the Earth around the Sun is completed in the time the Earth makes about 365 spins around itself.
Cycles within cycles: our time is written in the stars.
No living being can survive without predictible cycles.
Salmons go down to the oceans from their birthplace rivers, wandering on huge distances during few years then somehow all of a sudden they all give everything up and head towards their natal places in huge numbers to spawn.
And salmon’s massive run back home is a feast period in the own calendar of others like bears or bald eagles which all gather awaiting for this major event to happen and thus, insure their own survival.
There are cyclic events for all plants and animals alike: plancton, tortoises, wales, lobsters, herrings, crabs, tuna, sharks or dolphins in the ocean up to grazing species of Africa like buffalos,antilopes or gnus and carnivore species awaiting them like big cats or crocodiles.
Trees, insects, birds or reptiles, they all survive due to more or less obvious key cyclic events having their primary cause in astronomic events.
Truth is so far we have no clue about exactly how do they predict and all get synchronised at such incredible level of accuracy but as for us, humans well… we have calendars.
The word “calendar” we use for the naming and organizing of time cycles derives from the Latin word “kalendae” by which ancient Romans designated the first day of each month.
Humankind developed calendar systems eversince its traceable beginnings in prehistory, each calendar system having own local flavours given the importance to individually identify (and thus having a way to predict) dates for local phenomena (like Nile inundations in Egypt or monsoon seasons in Asia), agriculture time for key events like seeding or harvesting or observe religious holidays celebrated as a means to keep alive in the common conscience things considered having important significance.
From the point of view of the refference used, calendars can be lunar (based on phases of the moon), solar (based on solar cycle) or lunisolar (based on both moon and sun cycles).
Based on civilizations who developed them, there are a multitude of obsolete or still in use calendars such as Maya, Aztec, Indian, Chinese, Hebrew, Islamic, Roman, Julian, Gregorian and dozens of other calendars that all civilizations developed along time.
And as human imagination cannot be underestimated, humanity also uses some exotic but no less enforced calendars like for example, well… the Fiscal Calendars for taxes calculation (you didn’t see this one coming now, did you?).
To make it even worse, each country has its own fiscal calendar which might not be aligned with the official calendar, so starting/ending points of such calendars varies and seem to have no logic at all, like 1 April/ 31 March or 1 October/31 September versus 31 December/1 January.
Apparently, the delay from the official calendar gives time to lawmakers in some countries to go through the entire burocratic chain for approving country’s yearly budget.
But back to our far more human subject let’s go on telling you how comes years change every 1-st of January instead of say, every 5-th of November.
It seems that Romulus was not only one of the founders of Rome but also the creator of the first Roman calendar in which the first month of the year (March) containing the spring equinox and one year having 304 days distributed in 10
months whose names were kept until nowadays (March until December) with just 2 exceptions you’ll see below shortly.
This lunar calendar was too inaccurate and to cut a long story short, an ulterior Roman calendar corrected it by allowing 355 days per year distributed in 12 months (by adding January and February at the begining of the 10 existing ones) and added an extra (“intercalary“) month every 2 or 4 years to perform corrections.
But although better, this was not good enough either, let alone for a huge figure like Julius Caesar who had quite an empire to rule and needed accuracy.
So after his campaign in Egypt, where besides Cleopatra he also got acquainted with the Egyptian calendar having 365 days per year, he asked the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria to design a better calendar.
And this is how the (solar) Julian calendar came to being, each year having 365.25 days long, so regular years would have 365 days but each 4 years an extra day (“leap day”) is added at the end of February to compensate the 0.25 fraction part so the “leap year” will have 366 days.
This reform was implemented on January 1st 45 BCE (Before Common Era).
Well, maybe familiar but not yet accurate enough!
In the year that followed 45 BCE (45 BCE was named “The Year Of Confusion“, as it had to have 445 days for re-alignment purposes), Caesar was assasinated (but not because of his confusing calendar) and Augustus became emperor and soon renamed the months of “Quintilis” by “July” and “Sextilis” by “August” (to honor both Julius Caesar and himself) and the names of all 12 months remained unchanged until nowadays.
But names are less important so let’s rather tell you that, should an year have been exactly 365.25 days, then the Julian calendar would have been perfect.
Unfortunately, one year has 365. 2422 days actually, so the Julian calendar ignores a difference of 0. 0078 days (about 1/128 of a day) making this best-yet calendar, yet not good enough.
And even if it very slowly drifts away by adding one non-existent day each 128 years, in about 1600 years the delay was almost 12 days.
No wonder that in 1582 CE (Common Era) a new calendar was implemented to further refine the Julian calendar and to correct its 0.002% error as well.
It was promulgated by Pope Gregory XIII-th the work being done by the German astronomer and mathematician Christopher Clavius which respectfully modified and acknowledged the modifications of the works of Luigi Lilio.
The Catholic Church had a longtime interest in astronomy (apparently mainly due to needing to accurately calculate Easter dates) and the efforts made for calendar studies, for example, should not be underestimated.
Actually, Pope Gregory commisioned the building of the Gregorian Tower in Vatican, an astronomic observatory that was using the latest technologies of the time and which proved of great value to notice the Julian calendar deficiency.
Catholic Church’s vivid interest for astronomy remained unchanged until present days when Vatican Observatory has not just one but two advanced research centers, a Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope being maintained at Mount Graham, Arizona in the USA besides the one at the papal residence, Castel Gandolfo.
Operations were traditionally run by Jesuits through centuries, Clavius himself was a Jesuit as is Jose Gabriel Funes, the present director of the Observatory.
The (solar) Gregorian calendar named as such in honor of Pope Gregory, is currently the most widely accepted calendar in the World,being internationally recognized even if some countries use it concurrently with their own traditional calendars.
When introduced, it removed a 10 days deviation of the Julian calendar so dates from October 5 to October 14, 1582 CE were simply ommited for re-alignment purposes.
And in order to keep the correction going, new rules were introduced: leap years were no longer to occur each year number divisible by 4.
Instead, year numbers ending with two zeros (like 1700, 1800, 1900, etc) were not to be leap years except for cases when the number of centuries is divisible by 4 (like year 2000).
This is why year 2000 was a leap year (February 2000 had 29 days), why the next leap year after 1896 was 8 years later (1904 instead of 1900) and why this will happen again in 2096 (the next leap year being 8 years later, in 2104).
Adoption of the Gregorian calendar took about 350 years until reaching its actual spread, which explains some funny situations like for example why the October Revolution in Russia took place in November.
But Catholic Church dilligence to calculate Easter dates tables brought yet another standard widely in use today: the year numbering.
Around the year 525 CE, a scholar monk currently known as Dionysius Exiguus, born in then Scythia Minor (today Dobrogea region of Romania) devised the “Anno Domini” (The Year of our Lord) year-counting system which applied to both Julian and later on, Gregorian calendars.
Basically, the concept implies that, from a Christian point of view, the biggest event ever in humankind was the incarnation of Jesus so ages should be expressed as before- and after- this central event.
The year when this event happened was to become “year 1” and all prior as well as all subsequent years were to be numbered starting with it.
The 2 eras were therefore named BC (“Before Christ“) and AD (“Anno Domini“) and, as for various reasons this enumeration system slowly spread around the world even in non-Christian countries, eras got different, more neutral appellatives: CE (for Common Era, the equivalent of AD) and BCE (for Before Common Era, the equivalent of BC).
Well, all that being said, let’s just add that we, at ORPALIS, we use our own internal calendar but in concordance with the Gregorian one.
So, for example, there is no fixed date in the Gregorian calendar when the release of a major version of the GdPicture.NET SDK event takes place but it nevertheless happens each Gregorian year with no exceptions.
Likewise, there is no exact translation between our internal calendar and the Gregorian one regarding GdPicture.NET medium version release dates but fact is they usually happen each Gregorian month.
As for our general public products, PaperScan, ORPALIS PDF Reducer, Virtual Barcode Reader Free and DICOM Viewer Free, the algorithm of new versions release dates is too complicated so let’s describe it by using just one word: often!
See you next week, next month and next year!
A Happy and Healthy New Year from ORPALIS, folks!