Two economists from Johns Hopkins University proposed a revision to our current calendar system in 2012. They wanted to address the problem of the inconsistent number of working days in the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar does not allow the new year to start on the same day of the week. This is an annoyance to commerce sites which calculate interest based on week boundaries. It also creates a nuisance to school teachers and college professors who are unable to reuse their lecture schedules from the previous year in a new year. In Hank and Henry’s calendar system, the year would start with the same day of the week and anyone’s birthday would fall on the same day of the week also.

Henry and Hank proposed a scheme of two 30 day months followed by one 31 day month in a year. They proposed a leap year week once every 4-5 years. They knew that an earlier overhaul proposal by the founder of Eastman Kodak had failed miserably because it didn’t not maintain the Sabbath day (Sunday) of Christians. Henry and Hank hoped that their proposal would find more supporters since which it not disrupt the Sabbath day. Seasons could be off by 3-4 days in many years in Henry and Hank’s proposal. But they summarized their opinion on the matter by the statement “Does anyone notice the seasons?” Their statement got me pondering!

The calendar revision of 1582 had synchronized back the calendar dates with the actual seasons. Spring Equinox, for example, was on March 10th instead of on March 21st at the time of the reform. The concern related to the drift of calendar dates with respect to the seasons had been more religious than social. Henry and Hank are right in their opinion about nobody notices the drift of the seasons.

The ancients civilizations – the Babylonians, the Mayans and the Indians – were a lot more aware of drifts to calendar days with respect to nature cycles. The Hindu calendar reformers had noticed not only that the calendar days were drifting with respect to the seasons but they were keenly aware of drift of the seasons with respect to the background of stars. For example, they had noted the fact that the winter solstice was coinciding with the annual transition of the Sun from the constellation of Sagittarius to Capricorn during 4th century CE. They had named the winter solstice festival as Makara Sankranti, after the constellation Capricorn. The Makar Sankranti festival continues to be celebrated today on Jan 14th in memory of the Winter solstice coincidences from earlier.

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