The Different Calendars that Make Up a Diversity Calendar
The process of putting together a diversity calendar with over 1400 cultural and religious holidays from around the world is involved and complicated. While the United States and many other countries in the world use the Gregorian calendar, many countries such as Saudi Arabia and religions such as Eastern Orthodox Christianity use different calendars and therefore the date of certain holiday observances must be translated to the Gregorian calendar that CCI uses. The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and is the most widely used. It is considered the universal standard calendar by most International organizations.
There are over 49 different calendars currently in use by people around the world. Of these there are three overarching calendar systems that form the basis for many of the 49 calendars, those systems are: Lunar, Solar, and Lunisolar. These systems represent different ways of measuring the length of a year and interpreting astronomical events effecting the measurement of months and the year. In this blog post we are delving into some of the more technical considerations that Culture Coach makes when putting together the diversity calendar.
A lunar calendar is a calendar that uses the full cycle of the moon (from New or Dark Moon to Full and then back to New) to determine month length and uses the 12 sequential lunar cycles to measure the year. A well-known example of a lunar calendar is the Islamic Hijri calendar. The lunar calendar serves to determine traditional holidays in parts of the world that use the calendar such as India, China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Some examples of holidays that are determined based upon lunar calendars include Ramadan, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and Chuseok. An example of how the occurrence of a holiday is marked on a lunar calendar can be seen with Chuseok, which is celebrated on the 15th day of 8th month of the lunar calendar.
A solar calendar is designed to mark the passing of a year as measured by the amount of time that it takes the earth to circle around the Sun one complete time. Technically, a solar year is measured as the interval between vernal equinoxes. The vernal equinox is the time when the sun crosses the plane of the equator towards the relevant hemisphere, making day and night of equal length. The Gregorian calendar is one example of a solar calendar, as is the Iranian calendar and the Baha’i calendar. The calendar that Culture Coach develops each year uses the Gregorian format, thus all holidays based upon a solar calendar system do not have to be adjusted for listing on the diversity calendar.
A luni-solar calendar is based on a combination of both the solar and lunar calendar systems. A luni-solar calendar has a sequence of months based on the lunar phase cycle, but every few years a whole month is intercalated to bring the calendar back in phase with the tropical year. The Hebrew, Buddhist, and Burmese calendars are examples of this type of calendar and therefore a luni-solar calendar is used to determine the dates for Hebrew, Buddhist, and Burmese holidays. Due to varying methods in determining intercalary months, luni-solar calendars may have minor or even substantial variances on the dates even between countries from the same geo-cultural region, such as the national Burmese calendar compared to the Therevada Buddhist calendar to the Thai calendar. Therefore, Culture Coach has made every effort to ensure that the date listed reflects the country’s or religion’s specific calculations.
Diversity Calendar and Accuracy
However, as a disclaimer, it should be noted that sometimes there is no way to determine that the dates listed on our diversity calendar are 100% accurate. There are still certain regions, towns, and villages that rely upon the actual physical sighting of the moon to determine the beginning of a holiday. For example, the Swaziland holiday Incwala is marked “Too Be Announced” and the elders will not announce the holiday to officials until 2-3 days before the actual day. This is because it generally falls around the fourth day after the Full Moon nearest the longest day of the year, but the actual date actually depends on when the King and youths return from their rigorous march to the royal village. We take every effort to list the accurate date for the celebration of a holiday on our calendar, and now you know some of the steps that we take to ensure accuracy.