World Calendars

What are some of the special features of other calendar systems?

Members of the Islamic faith observe Fridays as their major day of worship. The fast of Ramadan begins at sundown on the evening before the date given; there is no prohibition on working during Ramadan. The two days of required religious observance are Eid-ul-Fitr (Festival of Fastbreaking) and Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). Members of the Islamic faith are prohibited from working on those two days. All of the dates of Islamic observance are tentative because they are based on the local first sightings of the lunar crescent of the new moon.

The Jewish religious day is Saturday – Shabbat – and begins at nightfall on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. All days of religious significance for the Jewish faith begin at sundown on the evening before the date given.

The Bahà’í year begins at the spring equinox, on March 21. Their calendar is comprised of 19 months, each 19 days long, and four “intercalary days (February 26 – March 1). The Baha’i day begins at sundown before the date listed and end at sundown on the date listed. The Baha’i Fast is observed every year from March 2 – March 20. Children under the age of 15, the elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers, those who are ill or engaged in heavy labour are exempt from observing the Fast.

Until March 31, 1998, the Sikhs used the Hindu lunisolar (Bikrami) calendar to determine their feast days. They now use their own solar Nanakshahi Calendar which started on March 14th , 1999. The era (1 Chet 1 Nanakshahi) is the date of the birth of the first Guru, Nanak Dev, in 1469. Although all observances are now fixed, Guru Nanak’s birthday and Holla Mohalla continue to be moveable feasts based on the lunar calendar.

Most Buddhists with the exception of the Japanese Buddhists, use the Lunar calendar. Dates of Buddhist festivals vary between different traditions and from country to country. For example, people from Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka celebrate their New Year in mid-April, whereas Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean Buddhists follow the lunar calendar and celebrate it in January or February. Tibetan Buddhists usually celebrate a month later.

The Christian faith has three separate calendars:

The Western or Gregorian calendar is that of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.

The Orthodox or Julian Calendar is divided into 12 months of 30 days each, and a 13th month of 5 or 6 days at the end of the year, hence the date for Christmas is on Jan. 7th. It is the same as the Western Calendar for all fixed feasts but uses the Julian calendar for moveable feasts such as Easter and is used primarily by the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Churches. This calendar is used mainly in eastern Europe, eastern Mediterranean, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Czech, Slovenia, Poland and Albania.

The Orthodox Coptic Calendar is 13 days behind the Julian Calendar and is used by most other Orthodox churches such as most of the churches in Egypt, Ethiopia, Entrea, Sudan and the Middle East.