As we focus on New Year’s resolutions and new beginnings, it’s good to remember that there is more than one calendar by which people measure their days.
We in the West use the Gregorian Calendar. While the Gregorian Calendar is widely accepted internationally and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union, many people throughout the world are simultaneously tuned to other calendars. For example, the Islamic and Hindu Calendars are both lunar calendars. Therefore, a main observance of holy days such as Ramadan start and end on different dates each year.
For centuries, eastern European and western Asian Christians have used the Julian Calendar for religious reasons. The Chinese and Hebrew calendars are still in use today for similar religious and social reasons. There are also the Iranian or Persian calendar used in Iran and some parts of Afghanistan, the Ethiopian calendar used in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Somali calendar that is used alongside the Gregorian and Islamic calendars and, in Thailand, the Thai solar calendar.
There are approximately forty calendars in use today. Periodically, in our classrooms, workplaces and community organizations, we can ask, “What holidays do you celebrate? What days of the year are special to you?”
Schools and workplaces across the country are examining their policies around holidays. Should people get a certain number of days a year and decide themselves which days they want to take off for family time and religious observance? How will we agree?
There was a time it was assumed that everyone would want to observe, for example, Christmas and the Gregorian Calendar’s New Year. Now, our perspectives must enlarge. When different viewpoints, emotional attachments and life experiences are considered, there is a strong possibility that a win/win agreement can be found and negotiated. When discussions are approached with respect and an appreciation for our diverse expressions of time and ritual, mutually satisfying schedules emerge.