Step One: Abolish the Calendar
What better way to win the hearts and minds of the general public than to tell them there will be no more calendar, right? “Surely,” you must be thinking, “this is not his whole plan. Abolish the calendar?” But it is, in a sense. There is one thing that must go.
Get rid of numerical days of the month.
Now, I am not saying that April Fools Day is gone or that Halloween disappears along with October 31st. No, all of the days and holidays are kept, but rather than reckoning days of the month by a number we will use the weekday (Monday, Tuesday, etc…) and the week. For example, I was born the Second Monday of December.
Why is this the first thing to go? Well, ultimately we want to use a convenient calendar that doesn’t cause headaches each year by changing. In our calendar we have two cycles like two interlocking wheels of time. There is the cycle of weeks and the cycle of days of the month. One year your birthday may fall on a Tuesday, the next it may fall on a Thursday.
As the two wheels turn, each year produces a predictable yet pleasantly fresh set of days. On the other hand, because we have these two cycles, we cannot accurately predict the week day of future days of the month without use of a calculator or calender.
Henry’s calendar plans to lock the two wheels together so that each year is identical to the last. And, while a consistent calendar is very desirable and efficient, it is still quite frustrating to have those two wheels locked in a boring stalemate. The solution of this Double Week Calendar is to toss out one of the wheels, getting rid of the numerical days of the month. This will remove some of the initial frustration of seeing too monotonous cogs turn without surprise. In its place we will add a new wheel, the Double Week, which will again bring forth new situations as it turns; more on that later.
Now that we have abolished the numerical days of the month, we still have months and we also have weeks. Our calendar will have 12 months and 52 weeks from now until eternity. Every year will start at the beginning of the 1st week and end at the close of the 52nd week.
Now, most of you who have studied a calendar for any period of time know that a 7-day week does not fit evenly into a 365-day year. Don’t worry, we won’t be adding “World Day” or some other day hidden between two weeks or between two months. No, we will be reducing the year to only 364 days.
This is where things get dicey. We have 365 days now, 366 in leap years, and we want to have 364 days. Which day do we cut??? In Henry’s calender he cut the 31st day of January, May, July, August, and October. Yikes! No more Halloween?! We have two advantages over Henry, however. One, we don’t have to cut any more than 1 day. Two, without numerical days of the month, if we did decide that a day would be cut from October, it would not be October 31st.
So, what are our options? I’ve settled on two options. One is to simply cut a day from any one of the months. It could be Hitler’s birthday in April, we could take back the extra day Caesar gave to July, or we could even trim February all the way down to 27 days.
Our second option is more precise. We cut two days and in exchange keep February at its maximum 29 days. Of the two days we cut, one will be from July, August, and September, and the other will be from October, November, and December. For demonstration purposes in the remainder of this article July and November will be trimmed to 30 and 29 days respectively; this provides some mirrored symmetry among the month lengths.
The second option splits the year into four equal quarters of 91 days each, making things easier for businesses.
Holidays and Anniversaries
Before we go further into how a 364-day calendar could actually work, we will revisit the concept of reckoning by weeks.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, I was born on the Second Monday of December. Even under our current calendar, if I had always celebrated the Second Monday of December then it never would have mattered to me if that was the 8th one year or the 10th the next; it would always be my birthday. Conversely, I would never be given to frustration that my birthday never moved to Thursday or to Saturday, because my birthday is a Monday.
It is almost the reverse of how we currently think of birthdays. If the dates still changed we might be excited whenever our birthday fell on the 14th or a multiple of 7 and we may feel jinxed if it fell on the 13th. But, because we aren’t even using numerical days of the month we won’t have to worry about numerical superstitions.
In the same way, our holidays will be reckoned by the weeks. Halloween will be the last Saturday night of October; Thanksgiving will be the fourth Thursday of November; Christmas will be the final Sunday of December.
Of course, these are my guesses. Thanksgiving, of course, will be on the fourth Thursday; but what week day would we like Halloween or Christmas to fall on? We’d have to decide, but we wouldn’t have to decide before making this calendar. The decision would be made organically over the first couple of years by each of us, our friends and family; of course, one or more church might step in to mandate a particular weekday for Christmas, but that will be their issue.
The Double Week
Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
Having 364 days in a year is not sustainable; even with 365 days we have to add an extra 366th every 4 years or so. With 364 days a calendar from one year looks identical to another. If we start adding leap days then months would have different numbers of Tuesdays and Fridays from year to year, we would no longer be able to reckon time by the weeks, and… well, we’d be back to our current calendar.
We could add leap-weeks, like Henry did. This is kinda where we will go, but having an extra week blowing in the wind sandwiched between two months is awkward. What if you are born on that week, when do you celebrate your birthday on the next year? Additionally, Henry’s leap-week comes at irregular intervals, every 5 or 6 years. Irregularity can be fun, but we have a better proposal.
The Double Week will also come every 5 or 6 years, but it will not be sandwiched between two months, one of the existing 52 weeks will be doubled. I was born on the Second Monday of December, but if that week was the one that was doubled then I’d essentially get two birthdays that year and people born on either of those “Second Mondays of December” would both share my birthday on every other normal year.
But having a week doubled is a rare occurrence. Each week will be doubled once every 292 years, so it will be one of the rarest treats to get a double birthday. And certainly the doubled week will include many non-birthday-related celebrations as well.
How the Double Week Wheel Works
Instead of the clumsy addition of a week at the end of every 5 or 6 years, every 292nd week repeats and doubles as the 293rd week. And… well, that is pretty much it.
For legal and financial purposes, days will also be numbered from the start of the year. Some years will have 364 days while every 5th or 6th will have 371. Businesses already do this, but it seems appropriate to include and we would never use these numbers in day to day life. Someone born on the first Thursday of the Double Week will not be older than someone born on the second Wednesday of the Double Week, even though in subsequent years the younger person will celebrate their birthday a day before.
292 is a multiple of 73 and 4. This means that over 73 years every 4th week will have a double week somewhere in there. Because our 52-week calendar is also a multiple of 4, this means that 13 weeks have the chance of becoming double weeks.
But there is also some drift. A 292-week cycle will not keep exactly even with the actual length of the year. After 400 years, the calendar would be 0.05 days fast; compare this to 3.12 days in the Julian calendar and 0.12 days in the Gregorian calendar. [the Gregorian calendar is more accurately fixed to the Spring equinox, which moves slightly in relation to the mean tropical year]
While further alterations to the cycle may be deemed unnecessary because it is already more accurate than the Gregorian Calendar, there is the possibility of future events altering the Earth’s rotation ever so slightly. We could accomplish this by stretching the week cycle from 292 weeks to 293 approximately every 228 years. But instead of using this odd approximation we will alter the length of the week cycle at the end of each 73 years by stretching it to 293 weeks or relaxing to 289. This one-time change will hardly be noticeable, but the flexibility will allow the calendar to maintain accuracy in perpetuity.
Therefore there will be a 73-year cycle when each of 13 weeks receives a Double Week. After this, the stretch or relaxing of one cycle will introduce a new set of 13 weeks to be double Weeks. After 4 such stretches, a period of 292 years, every week will have been doubled once and the first set of 13 weeks will be on deck for their next doubling.
Actual Physical Calendars?
I half joked about abolishing the calender at the beginning of this post, but truly, it won’t take more than a couple years if not a couple months to adjust to planning days solely around the weekdays rather than both weekdays and days of the month. I once received a flyer inviting me to a party, but the date listed was a Sunday morning not actually the Saturday that the flyer said the party would be on.
Obviously the party was planned for Saturday and once we know, for example, that there will always be 4 Saturdays in February then we can more easily say that the party will be on the “First” “Second,” “Third” or “Fourth” (or “Final,” if you prefer) Saturday of February.
But there will be need for physical calendars. Having days veer 3.5 days from the earth’s actual position relative to the sun is no small deal when it comes to farming and, for the church, calculating Easter. In addition, there are circumstances where absolute dating is necessary; your birth certificate will likely include the day of the year you were born along with the week day. And when a double week does occur, most calenders that are to be used will actually need to add space in the appropriate parts of the calendar.
Therefore, a printed calendar will either be of standard form, showing only the week days and the months, or the calendar will be of advanced form. The standard form is the jokingly “abolished” form because it will be the form that will be quickly committed to memory.
The “advanced form” will have added space for a double week, if applicable, and the day of the year (1-364 or -371) will be written in the upper right corner of each day and with it will be the Gregorian day of the month to be used by agriculturalists, the elderly, and/or clergymen. The month of the Gregorian day will not be included because the 1st of each month will only be off by 4 days at the most; the months will always be consistent.
It would be nice to introduce any new calendar immediately and having the first day of the year begin with the first day of the month like it does this year would seem an opportune time. But, we’d likely have to spend the next 5 years arriving at a consensus implementation for the next time the first day of the year is also the first day of the week, January 2017.
At any rate, you’d probably like to know when the first Double Week will be. The first double week will be the third week of October in the third year of implementation (October 2014 if started now, 2019 if started 5 years from now). Of course, nearby weeks would work just as well, and technically you could start at any time in the first 5 years. After the first 73 years the stretching and relaxing of the cycle will set the calendar a little closer to the precise time (we are talking about a cumulative difference of meager minutes before each correction).
I know, let us have the first Double Week fall on the last week of February to kick things off with a nod back to the time of the year when the leap day, double day (yes, the Romans actually had a 48-hour day), and Second February were all added to the year. From there the Double Week would begin its 292-year cycle.