# Calendar System

**The Basis for our Calendar System**

Because we are sensitive to light and dark, heat and
cold (and our activities depend on these), we naturally divide time
into units of light versus
dark (days versus nights) and the cycle of warm and cold weather (years). We
also find it convenient to work with two shorter units: the week. The
week, as you know, consists of 7 days for reasons of history and tradition. The
month is the other unit, again for reasons of history and tradition,
with lengths 28 through 31 days.

We have an odd assortment
of days in a month for a reason. Imagine that the year was exactly
360.000 days long. With that nice round number, if we chose our "week" to
be 3, 4,5, 6, or 12 days long and our "month" to be 24 or 30
days long, we would have a calendar in which every year started on at
the beginning of a week and ended on the last day of a week. This is
similar to every year beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday. We
wouldn't have to worry if the (American) holiday July 4^{th} falls
on a Tuesday one year or a Saturday another year. It would fall
on the same day (and date of course) every year. One calendar could
be used forever, as a given date would always occur on the same day of
the week, and no leap years would be needed.

However,
we in fact, have 365.242199 days from one vernal equinox to the next
-- the "tropical
year". This is used because it ties directly to the seasons. That
long number is obviously not an even number of days (so we need leap
years), and it does not contain an even number of weeks. So, a
given day of the year or date in the year, falls on different days of
the week
in different years.

We deal with the fact that the
year is not an even number of weeks by getting new calendars every year.
Our calendar system, the Gregorian calendar system, adjusts for the fact
that there are not an even number of days in a year by introducing leap
years. A leap year is a year in which we introduce one extra day – February
29 (there are normally only 28 days in February).

**Leap
Year Rule** Length
of year if the rules are followed

Every year divisible by 4--------- 365.25

except those divisible by 100-----365.24

but with those divisible by 400--365.2425

except those divisible by 4000-365.24225

**According to these rules, 1996
was a leap year, because it is divisible by 4 and not by 100. The
year 1900 was not a leap year, because it is divisible by 100 and
not by 400.**