A good grasp of the Gregorian calendar is fundamental for our daily routines and time management, as it forms the cornerstone of most everyday activities and global official record-keeping. Some key things to know about the Gregorian calendar:
Pope Gregory XIII (born Ugo Boncompagni in 1502) who introduced the “Gregorian” calendar in 1582. Until then, the Julian calendar had been in use since 45 BC. The Gregorian calendar is also called the "New Style" or Western|Christian calendar, and is based on the solar dating system. It was initially followed by a number of European countries. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the most widely-used civil calendar in the world.
#2. Reason: Why it was introduced
It was introduced as a reform of the Julian calendar, which had minor miscalculations of the solar year's length by 11 minutes, and had gradually fallen out of alignment with the changing seasons.
For example, this resulted in the date of the Easter, traditionally celebrated around March 21, drifting farther from the spring equinox with each passing year. The Gregorian calendar sorted a discrepancy in the Julian calendar that threw the calendar year off from the solar year by 10 days.
The Julian calendar was introduced by Roman emperor Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. The year 46 B.C. lasted 445 days and later became known as the "final year of confusion.” The Julian calendar was in use for nearly 1600 years, before the Gregorian calendar started supplanting it in 1582.
741The number of years that the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582, had been in use for
The Gregorian calendar has 12 months, just like its predecessor, the Julian calendar. The months are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.
#4. Leap years
The Gregorian calendar has a leap-year rule. Years divisible by 4 are leap years, except for years divisible by 100 but not by 400. For example, the year 2000 was a leap year because it is divisible by 400, but 1900 was not a leap year.
The months in the Gregorian calendar have varying numbers of days. January, March, May, July, August, October, and December have 31 days. April, June, September, and November have 30 days. February has 28 days, but during leap years, it has 29 days.
#5. Year length | New Year’s Day
The Gregorian year has an average length of 365.2425 days, which is close to the solar year of approximately 365.2422 days.
This makes it more accurate than the Julian calendar in synchronising with the solar year. In most parts of the world, the Gregorian calendar celebrates New Year's Day on January 1.
#6. Calendar reset
The Gregorian calendar does not account for the accumulation of seconds and minutes in the Earth's rotation. To address this, leap seconds are occasionally added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the time standard used worldwide.
#7. Weekdays, repeats
The Gregorian calendar repeats every 400 years. This means that dates fall on the same days of the week in a 400-year cycle. For instance, January 1, 2024, is a Monday, and the next time January 1 will fall on a Monday and the dates for the rest of the year will fall on the same days — a repeat — will be in the year 2424.
#8. England adopts Gregorian calendar
It was only in 1752 — about 170 years after it was proclaimed by Gregory XIII — when England adopted the Gregorian calendar. When it was introduced, Benjamin Franklin (who lived in London) wrote, "It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on Sept. 2, and not have to get up until Sept. 14." Nearly two weeks evaporated into thin air in England when it transitioned from the Julian calendar, which had left the country 11 days behind much of Europe.
While the Gregorian calendar is the international standard for civil purposes, various cultures and religions use their own calendars for religious or cultural events, creating a rich tapestry of diverse ways to measure time.