Christmas always on Sunday? Researchers create new, consistent calendar

New calendar created by researchersResearchers at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered a way to make time stand still — at least when it comes to the yearly calendar.

Using computer programs and mathematical formulas, Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Steve H. Hanke, an applied economist in the Whiting School of Engineering, have created a new calendar in which each new 12-month period is identical to the one which came before, and remains that way from one year to the next in perpetuity.

Under the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, for instance, if Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2012 (and it would), it would also fall on a Sunday in 2013, 2014 and beyond. In addition, under the new calendar, the rhyme “30 days hath September, April, June and November,” would no longer apply, because September would have 31 days, as would March, June and December. All the rest would have 30. (Try creating a rhyme using that.)

Stable calendar offers benefits

“Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays,” says Henry, who is also director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.”

Among the practical advantages would be the convenience afforded by birthdays and holidays (as well as work holidays) falling on the same day of the week every year. But the economic benefits are even more profound, according to Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy.

“Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor,'” explains Hanke. “Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.”

According to Hanke and Henry, their calendar is an improvement on the dozens of rival reform calendars proffered by individuals and institutions over the last century.

Goodbye Gregorian calendar?

“Attempts at reform have failed in the past because all of the major ones have involved breaking the seven-day cycle of the week, which is not acceptable to many people because it violates the Fourth Commandment about keeping the Sabbath Day,” Henry explains. “Our version never breaks that cycle.”

Henry posits that his team’s version is far more convenient, sensible and easier to use than the current Gregorian calendar, which has been in place for four centuries – ever since 1582, when Pope Gregory altered a calendar that was instituted in 46 BC by Julius Caesar.

In an effort to bring Caesar’s calendar in synch with the seasons, the pope’s team removed 11 days from the calendar in October, so that Oct. 4 was followed immediately by Oct. 15. This adjustment was necessary in order to deal with the same knotty problem that makes designing an effective and practical new calendar such a challenge: the fact that each Earth year is 365.2422 days long.

Hanke and Henry deal with those extra “pieces” of days by dropping leap years entirely in favor of an extra week added at the end of December every five or six years. This brings the calendar in sync with the seasonal changes as the Earth circles the sun.

In addition to advocating the adoption of this new calendar, Hanke and Henry encourage the abolition of world time zones and the adoption of “Universal Time” (formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time) in order to synchronize dates and times worldwide, streamlining international business.

“One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world,” they write in a January 2012 Global Asia article about their proposals. “Business meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical every year. Today’s cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy — that’s all of us — would receive a permanent ‘harmonization’ dividend.”

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

10 thoughts on “Christmas always on Sunday? Researchers create new, consistent calendar”

  1. Sabbath is not a Sunday… but a day in the heavens. Should know more about religion… and the stars then scribes of liars.

  2. And the people that have birthdays on monday would be screwed forever. monotony is not always a good thing. Another way of putting the holidays on a particular day of the week would be to make them like thanksgiving. Then holidays could be stable while birthdays continued to rotate. I am also curious about what happens to holidays that are based on seasonal changes such as the solstices.

  3. I think that this is an excellent idea, but it would be like telling the queen of England to wear short-shorts on hot days, its very practical but no-one would want to, even given the advantages, and my mum would moan

  4. Of course, the best system will be one that demands a 24-hour clock; and the likelihood of this change taking place is close to zero.

  5. It sounds like a very sound and logical idea, but the jump to this would be horrible. At least until pre-yearly calander dates become irrevelant.


    1. For anyone born after Febuary 28th in a year using Gregorian calandar, including leap-day: How do you determine the new date to celebrate/update records on? (also goes for anniversaries and payment due dates established prior to the change)

    2. If a bank payment or the like is first established on “Leap week”, people may get confused easily.

    3. Every computer system would need an update for it to use the new time system. This goes for not only client operating systems, but for database systems such as SQL. I belive Unix Time will not be changed much as far as leap seconds go, but will still need updated to show the days properly.

    4. Although it comes with using the proposed Universial Time, Daylight Savings Time messes that up whenever it goes into effect. And so it would have to be determined if it stays on world-wide year-round, in favor of more daylight, or vice versa, where it would affect nightly activities such as drive-in theaters and night clubs – as people won’t attend because of work the next day. Perhaps make Daylight Savings Time only spring forward 30 minutes, and never gaining or losing those 30 minutes again would be an optimal solution.

    5. This is the worst of them all: Children will be jealous that one or more of their friends has their birthday on a saturday every year and they don’t. (Okay, that one was a joke.)

    • I’m not sure you thought this all the way through, CitrusRain. #1 is arbitrary – use the same dates as before. Dates are abstractions, and the new abstractions will take their place between other dates, but your birthday will be the same, even if it’s on Dec 31. For #2, assume that we will all take vacations in leap weeks, and no official business will take place. That’s the only way it will work, but that’s a good option. #3 is also an abstraction, and computer code can deal with the anomalies, as it does now (although some stuff is deeply encoded in the OS, or even in machine language, so there will be some pain). #4 is your misunderstanding – there will be no daylight savings time. If you are in California, for instance, you will redefine hours of the day based not on noon and midnite designations, but on the absolute time locally. For instance, it’s 7PM local time here (CA) and 3AM GMT now. If we adopt this system, 3AM will be in the local primetime TV, and 3PM will be close to the beginning of the work day. We’ll optimize our days (which we should have done instead of creating “savings time”) so that days start and end as close to daylight as they can (so we may work 4 to 11 PM universal time, instead of 9 to 5).

      No comment on #5. Life’s unfair.

      • @JohnM

        1 & 2 – Fair enough.

        3 – Yes. Exactly. That’s what I was basically saying.

        4 – As far as the dailight savings goes, it will either feel like it is or is not in effect. For example during the winter months without DST, I feel like I’m going to pass out driving home, while in the summer months with DST, the day feels much longer.

        Schedules of school, store, and buisness hours, as well as TV shows going at a set time are like a lock in for following the time.

        I get to work at 8:00am (13:00 GMT) and leave at 4:30pm (21:30 GMT) and with those times being without DST as of now, it’s pitch black by 5:30pm (22:30 GMT) when I get home trying not to sleep behind the wheel.

        Basically, I’m not sure that would be toleratable to let it be dark at that time year-round. And because I don’t have control over working hours, it’s not like I can just skip ahead on my own accord.

        On that note, DST was proposed to save electricity, and if companies do not arbitrarily and collectively choose what would have people in bed earlier, then people would have lights running longer.

        Do you get what I’m trying to say about this big ball of timey-wimey stuff?

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