Now that the ol' one has tacked up his 2004 East Penn Traction Club trolley wall calendar to be followed by his 2004 Reading Company Technical & Historical Society railroad wall calendar 31 days hence (the ol' one likes to know where he's going and where he's been), the ol' one began to wonder just how many calendars are out there on the open market and up here in cyberspace.

After a quick study of calendar websites, the ol' one has concluded that the number of calendars offered for sale in the United States must be in the millions. And there are calendars for virtually any topic you can think of. Obviously there are train and trolley calendars, as well as animal calendars, historic site calendars, association calendars, school calendars, manufacturer calendars, insurance agent calendars, your favorite business calendars ("customized" with the name and contact information of the business at the bottom of each full-color month) cartoon character calendars, and sports calendars among seemingly countless other varieties, including pocket calendars and desk calendars. There's even a Tri County Record calendar for 2004 called "Now and Then...", which was included with last week's edition. Heading into the current calendar season, the ol' one found two on-line shopping sites for calendars, TopsMedia.com and Calendars.com. Both offer their "top ten" calendars which include "Mom's Plan-It," "German Shorthaired Pointers," "Nuns Having Fun," "The Far Side ˆ® by Gary Larson," "Thomas Kinkade-Painter of Light," and "Dilbert by Scott Adams."

Aside from their individual themes and treatments, each calendar is basically the same: 12 months and 366 days ('04 is a leap year). They are also Gregorian by nature, at least in western and westernized countries. We can thank Pope Paul III and Pope Gregory XIII for giving us a more orderly method to count our days and months.

Before they set the record straight, the world had relied on the Julian calendar. It was a calendar that Julius Caesar had introduced in 46 B.C., based on the work of the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes. It consisted of 12 months, 365 days with an extra day every fourth year. According to exhaustive research done by Hermetic Systems (www.hermetic.ch/cal_stud/cal_art.htm), while the Julian calendar was based on a solar year, a day or two was subtracted along the way, which would eventually cause some confusion. After approximately 131 years, the Julian calendar had gone out of sync with the movements of the sun. This became a cause of concern in Rome because by the 16th century, the calculation for the observance of Easter had placed it in summer.

Hermetic Systems recounts that Pope Paul III turned to a Jesuit named Christopher Claudius to tidy up things. When Pope Gregory XIII had succeeded Pope Paul III, he made it official on February 24, 1582. In his papal bull, "Inter Gravissimas," the calendar was reformed so that: Ten days were struck from the calendar. A leap year is a leap year if the year in question is divisible by four but not by 100 or it is divisible by 400. That extra day in a leap year was assigned to the day following February 28 whereas it had been added to the day before February 25. Amazingly enough, according to Hermetic Systems, until 1911 the Roman Church considered the ecclesiastical new year to be Christmas Day. In 1910, Pope Pius X decreed a change to January 1, which took effect the following year.

Here's a tidbit of trivia from Hermetic Systems that hinges on the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. According to Julian time keeping, George Washington was born February 11, 1731; by Gregorian calculation, it is February 22, 1732.

By and large, we find ourselves in the sixth day of January of the year 2004. But let's not overlook the ways a few other folks view the day. In calculations performed by the Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (at DEA's website: www.WebExhibits.com) 2004 is the start of 1383 in the Persian calendar and the start of 1425 in the Islamic calendar.

In China says DEA, the government runs by the Gregorian calendar but festivals are determined by a unique Chinese calendar. This calendar uses exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and phases of the moon. If you're keeping score, 2004 in Chinese is 4702, the Year of the Monkey, and it will be ushered in January 22, 2004.

For Jewish folks, the Jewish calendar is used for religious purposes. It is a combined solar/lunar product and is the official calendar of Israel. According to this calendar, 2004 is the year 5765.

Hmmm...the ol' one knows one thing for sure: tomorrow will be the seventh of January 2004, wherever you are in the TriCounty region. Funny thing though, he couldn't find a date to herald the groundbreaking for Morgantown Crossings.

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