Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Changing the Calendar

I must admit when I first found out about this proposal, I looked for the date of the article's posting to see if it was the 1st April. Why would you want to do that? However, I soon found that the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar was a serious suggestion being offered for the world to adopt. Hanke, an expert in international economics, including monetary policy claimed practical advantages would be "the convenience afforded by birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. falling on the same day of the week every year while economic benefits are even more substantial. The calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate the 'rip-off factor.' To determine how much interest accrues for a wide variety of instruments - bonds, mortgages, swaps, forward rate agreements, etc. - day counts are required. The current calendar contains complexities and anomalies that create day count problems. In consequence, a wide range of conventions have evolved in an attempt to simplify interest calculations.

Specifically, discrepancies between the actual/ actual and 30/360 day count conventions occur with all months that do not have exactly 30 days. The best example comes from calculating accrued interest between February 28th and March 1st in a non-leap year. A corporate bond accrues three days of interest, while a government bond accrues interest for only one day. The proposed permanent calendar - with a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days - eliminates the need for artificial day count conventions." (See. A sample calendar is also shown).

The actual Earth year is 365.2422 days while this calendar takes up 364 days. Hanke and Henry deal with that extra one and a quarter days by suggesting an extra week added at the end of December every five or six years. Hanke says "We propose a new calendar that preserves the Sabbath, with no exceptions. That calendar is simple, religiously unobjectionable, business-friendly and identical year-to-year. There are, just ...... 364 days in each year. But, every five or six years (specifically, in the years 2015, 2020, 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043, 2048, 2054, 2060, 2065, 2071, 2076, 2082, 2088, 2093, 2099, 2105, ..., which have been chosen mathematically to minimize the new calendar's drift with respect to the seasons), one extra full week (seven days, so that the Sabbath is unaffected) is inserted, at the end of the year. These extra seven days bring the calendar back into full synchrony with the seasons." This insertion of the extra seven days every five or six years may upset the Epiphany purists who will always want it occuring on 6 January at the end of the twelve days of Christmas. These twelve days would have to become the nineteen days of Christmas. We'll need a few more objects to add to the partridges and pear trees won't we!

How would Australians feel if Christmas Day always fell on a Sunday; Australia Day always on a Thursday and Anzac Day always on a Wednesday (as they would)? Maybe it wouldn't be a problem but I suspect that with Australians seeming to want their public holidays always associated with a weekend but not on a weekend, there would be some resistance to the idea. When there is a birth, death or marriage on one of these days, how would the the event be remembered?

The Gregorian calendar started in 1582 and Family Historians seem to have handled it fairly well but what are the implications if the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar is adopted?. Generally, we use actual dates and would continue to record them as such but that extra seven days will raise some questions. What do we call those days? What month or year do we record them in - are they actually in December or January; 2011 or 2012 or are they not in any year? Software programmes would also need to be varied but that shouldn't be too difficult.

Hanke-Henry suggested 2012 as the year to start the new calendar as it commences on a Sunday but they have missed the boat with that one. Will it ever be adopted? Naturally, I don't know but given the world has extreme difficulty coming together and agreeing on any topic, I suspect the natural resistance to change will probably prevail and we'll never see it.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I wasn't aware of this. But I think your last sentence is correct. I am already resisting it.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)