Friday, October 10, 2008

The Calendar and Masonry

by Harvey Lovewell
Secretary WHJ Mayers Lodge of Research
Cairns Far North Queensland

Delivered at the Ninth ANZMRC Conference,
Queanbeyan NSW, Australia October 2008

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time Wm Shakespeare Macbeth1 Yesterday is HISTORY Tomorrow is a MYSTERY Today is a GIFT That's why it's called the 'PRESENT'


Did you know? . . .
• Russia’s October Revolution in 1917 actually occurred on November 7th • For centuries, Britain and the colonies rang in the New Year on March 25th • The Roman Empire originally observed an eight-day week • The Anno Domini (a.d.) year-counting system is wrong, and Jesus birth actually occurred some years before December 25, 1 BCE.2

The above quotes touch on my subject for today. One may ask of what interest the subject of the
Calendar would be to Masonry.

It's hard to think of something more central to our daily lives and yet more strange and full of odd names and bizarre rules than the calendar and our time-keeping system in general.

We are told in our Ritual that Freemasonry has been in existence since time immemorial, with references to Egyptian Hieroglyphical figures and Pythagoras. That famous Masonic historian
Albert Mackey says:-

Thus, if we seek the origin and first beginning of the Masonic philosophy, we must go away back into the ages of remote antiquity, when we shall find this beginning in the bosom of kindred associations, where the same philosophy was maintained and taught. But if we confound the ceremonies of Masonry with the philosophy of Masonry, and seek the origin of the institution, moulded into outward form as it is to-day, we can scarcely be required to look farther back than the beginning of the eighteenth century, and, indeed, not quite so far. For many important modifications have been made in its rituals since that period.3

From the above quote taken from Mackey’s “Origins and Progress of Freemasonry” it can be seen that time and its passing have an important role in Freemasonry and many centuries are represented as passing in this quote.

Bernheim writing his Norman B. Spencer Prize Essay, in 1986 says:- when referring to Masonic research and I tend to agree with him.
“Since ascertaining dates is probably as useful as determining facts” and “Yet there is very little masonic literature relevant to this matter”4

Our early history spans the introduction of the Gregorian, or "New Style" calendar. The serious student of Freemasonry must take into account the differing dates as recorded by various peoples around the earth as represented by the universality of Freemasonry.

In the study of freemasonry there are two kinds of statements presented to the mind of the student.

These are sometimes in agreement, but much more often conflicting, in their character. These are the historical and the traditional, each of which belongs to Freemasonry but each considers it from a different angle.

The historical statement relates to the institution as we look at it from an exoteric or public point of view; the traditional refers only to its esoteric or private character. I might suggest however that there no longer is a private part of freemasonry, the internet has seen to that.

For every ancient nation or organisation there is a prehistoric and a historic period. The prehistoric period is then, that earlier stage of existences which has left to us no records to prove the truth of the events that have been credited to it. Such remains that we possess of that period, are quite often made up of myths and legends, founded - some of them, in all probability - on a tangling of historical acts, and others are indebted entirely to the imagination of their inventor and the continual reference by others to those inventors under the heading of fact.

The historic period is that which begins with that account of events which is supported by documents, either of the same date as the events themselves or so recently after them as to have nearly all the strength of promptly recorded evidence. Just such a division of periods as this we find in the history of Freemasonry.

The prehistoric period, to which belongs what is most commonly styled the legendary history, includes the time, remote or more recent, of the rise and progress of the institution, and the legends detailing events said to have occurred, but having no proof of their occurrence other than that of mouth-to-ear tradition unsupported by that sort of documentary evidence which is necessary to give a reliable character to a historical statement.

The historic period of Freemasonry begins with the time from which we have written or printed records to furnish the necessary testimony that the events mentioned did actually occur. As this subject is very complex I will not be going into minute detail. To give you an idea of the problem I quote from Andersons Constitutions:

“After the Birth of Christ 4 Years, or when CHRIST was going in his 4th Year, The CHRISTIAN Era begins A.M. 4004. Commonly call’d ANNO DOMINI, 1.’5

Incidentally this timing would have made 1996 the 6000th year after creation. This is of course if the calculations done by Ussher were correct.

A.M. or Anno Mundi is the Jews calculation of the date of Creation being equal to our 3761 BCE
So where did the date 4004 come from?

James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin was highly regarded in his day as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved the most durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 BC, Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 2348 BC `on a Wednesday'6.

Already we are getting into deep water. The above dates, however all have some significance to
Masonry and its Orders as does the following taken from Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. I reproduce this entry in full as it contains a lot of Masonic time information

Quote from Mackey

“Calendar. Freemasons, in affixing dates to their official documents, never make use of the common epoch or vulgar era, but have one peculiar to themselves, which, however, varies in the different rites, Era and epoch are, in this sense, synonymous, Masons of the York, American, and French Rites, that is to say, the Masons of England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, and America date from the creation of the world, calling it " Anno Lucis," which they abbreviate A... L. signifying in the Year of Light, Thus with them the year 1872 is A.'. L... 5872, this they do, not because they believe Freemasonry to be coeval with the creation, but with a symbolic reference to the light of Masonry. In the Scotch Rite, the epoch also begins from the date of creation, but Masons of that Rite, using the Jewish chronology, would call the year 1872 A.M... or Anno Mundi (in the Year of the World) 5632. They sometimes use the initials A.H, signifying Anno Hebraico, or, in the Hebrew year, They have also adopted the Hebrew months, and the year, therefore, begins with them in the middle of September, Masons of the York and American Rites begin the year on the first of January , but in the French Rite it commences on the first of March, and instead of the months receiving their usual names, they are designated numerically, as first, second, third, etc, Thus, the 1st of January, 1872, would be styled, in a French Masonic document, the "lst day of the 11th Masonic month, Anno Lucis, 5872," The French sometimes, instead of the initials A .L., use L'an de la V,'. L.." or Vraie Lumiere, that is, Year of True Light, The Royal Arch Masons commence their epoch with the year in which Zerubbabel began to build the second Temple, which was 530 years before Christ Their style for the year 1872 is, therefore, A.'. Inv.’, that is Anno Inventionis, or, in the Year of the Discovery, 2402. Royal and Select Masters very often make use of the common Masonic date, Anno Lucis, but properly they should date from the year in which Solomon's Temple was completed; and their style would then be, Anno Depositionis, or in the Year of the Deposite, and they would date the year 1872 as 2872. Knights Templars use the epoch of the organization of their Order in 1118, Their style for the year 1872 is A. 0.’ Anno Ordinis, or, in the Year of the order, 754, I subjoin for the convenience of reference, the rules for discovering these dates. 1, To find the Ancient Craft date, Add 4000 to the vulgar era. Thus 1872 and 4000 are 5872, 2, To find the date of the Scotch Rite. Add 3760 to the vulgar era, Thus 1872 and 3760 are 5632, After September add one year more, 3, To find the date of Royal Arch Masonry. Add 530 to the vulgar era. Thus 530 and 1872 are 2402. 4, To find the Royal and Select Masters' date, Add 1000 to the vulgar era, Thus 1000 and 1872 are 2872. 5, To find the Knight Templars' date. Subtract 1118 from the vulgar era, Thus 1118 from 1872 is 754.7 The following will show, in one view, the date of the year 2008 in all the branches of the Order: Year of the Lord, A, D, 2008-Vulgar era, Year of Light, A. L. 6008 -Ancient Craft Masonry, Year of the World, A. M. 5768- Scotchish Rite. Year of the Discovery, A.'. I... 2538 Royal Arch Masonry. Year of the Deposite, A... Dep.'. 3008 Royal and Select Masters, Year of the Order, A,., 0.'. 890- Knights Templars.

There is a footnote in the 1738 edition of Andersons Constitutions that in old English describes how he computes the date of creation and refers to Ussher. It is not all that clear however. Reproduced below is part of what is contained on the front page, with dated references.

Andersons Dates

Note the dates referred to as the year of Masonry,

As a computer person the hysteria around the turn of the century galled me and was probably fostered by those who had a vested interest in creating uncertainty. I was also perplexed that the year number representing 2000 since the birth of Christ was used by many in prophesizing the end of times and such.

As there was not a year zero, two thousand years from the start of the Common Era brings us to 2001 which would have made this, the change of the millennium. So we still see mans influence and prejudice on the calendar.

Early Calendars

Masonic writers do refer to times past and often quote specific dates; I wanted to know just how accurate these dates were and to what Calendar they referred.

The purpose of the calendar is to reckon past or future time, to show how many days until a certain event takes place, the harvest or a religious festival, or how long since something important happened.

The earliest calendars were strongly influenced by the geographical location of the people who made them. In colder countries, the concept of the year was determined by the seasons, specifically by the end of winter. But in warmer countries, where the seasons are less pronounced, the Moon became the basic unit for time reckoning; an old Jewish book (Midrash) says that “the Moon was created for the counting of the days.”

Quote from Couzens.

Couzens in his work “Stories of the Months and Days” says:

We all know that the earth turns round on its own axis, giving us periods of light and darkness, which we call day and night. The word “day", which comes from a very, very old word meaning "to shine", really means, of course, the time during which the earth is lit up by the sun, but it has also come to mean the time which the earth takes to revolve, as from sunrise to sunrise, sunset to sunset, midday to midday. The Greeks measured the day from sunset to sunset, the Romans from midnight to midnight, the Babylonians from sunrise to sunrise. The day, in this sense, became the first measurement of time8.

Moon Phases

The principal astronomical cycles are the day (based on the rotation of the Earth on its axis), the year (based on the revolution of the Earth around the Sun), and the month (based on the revolution of the Moon around the Earth). The complexity of calendars arises because these cycles of revolution do not comprise an integral number of days, and because astronomical cycles are neither constant nor perfectly commensurable with each other,

Most of the oldest calendars were lunar calendars, based on the time interval from one new moon to the next—a so-called lunation. But even in a warm climate there are annual events that pay no attention to the phases of the Moon. In some areas it was a rainy season; in Egypt it was the annual flooding of the Nile River. The calendar had to account for these yearly events as well.

Calendar parts.

The tropical year is defined as the mean interval between vernal equinoxes; it corresponds to the cycle of the seasons. Our calendar year is linked to the tropical year as measured between two
March equinoxes, as originally established by Caesar and Sosigenes.

Equinoxes and solstices are frequently used as anchor points for calendars. For people in the northern hemisphere, where most of our Masonic writing has been done the:

Winter solstice is the time in December when the sun reaches its southernmost latitude. At this time we have the shortest day. The date is near 21 December.

Summer solstice is the time in June when the sun reaches its northernmost latitude. At this time we have the longest day. The date is near 21 June.

Vernal equinox is the time in March when the sun passes the equator moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere. Day and night have approximately the same length the date is near 20 March.

Autumnal equinox is the time in September when the sun passes the equator moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere. Day and night have approximately the same length. The date is near 22 September.

For people in the southern hemisphere these events are shifted half a year.

Another kind of year is called the sidereal year, which is the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun.

In the year 2000, the length of the Tropical Year was 365.24219 days, and the length of the
Sidereal Year was 365.2564 days.

The synodic month, the mean interval between conjunctions of the Moon and Sun, corresponds to the cycle of lunar phases.

How then should we define the Calendar? A calendar is a system of organizing units of time for the purpose of reckoning that time over extended periods. By convention, the day is the smallest calendrical unit of time; the measurement of fractions of a day is classified as timekeeping.

The generality of this definition is due to the diversity of methods that have been used in creating calendars. Although some calendars replicate astronomical cycles according to fixed rules, others are based on abstract, perpetually repeating cycles of no astronomical significance.

Some calendars are regulated by astronomical observations, some carefully and redundantly enumerate every unit, and some contain ambiguities and discontinuities.

Some calendars are codified in written laws; others are transmitted by oral tradition.

Different Calendars

So how many Calendars are or were there? Far too many for a paper of this size to study but I will mention some of them. What is a Calendar made up of? From the above, I think that most people would say that it is made up of days, weeks, Months and years.


Measuring the passing of time has been an ongoing work for millennia. There is evidence of Stone Age man using counting bones as a calendar fro 40 000 years ago. Let us however, start with the Babylonians. Like all other calendars, the Babylonian calendar had twelve lunar months (about 354 days) and a problem to make these fit the solar year (about 365 days).

In the western calendar, this is solved by cutting the tie between the lunar phase and the calendar month; the Babylonians found a different solution by adding leap months. In the table below, you will find the names of the Babylonian month and two calendars that were inspired by the Babylonian example.

Month comparison for four different calendars

Originally, the Babylonian king decided which month had to be added ("intercalated"), and when.

This was not very satisfying, and the Babylonian astronomers, often called Chaldaeans, gradually developed rules to create the nearly perfect calendar. The key was the discovery, in the mid-eighth century BCE, that 235 lunar months are almost identical to 19 solar years. (The difference is only two hours.) The Chaldaeans concluded that seven out of nineteen years ought to be leap years with an extra month.

The Babylonian temple astronomers, who were in fact called tupšar Enûma Anu Enlil, (possibly the earliest astrologers) had been observing the skies for centuries and had recorded their observations in Astronomical diaries, astronomical almanacs, catalogues of stars and other texts.

The British Museum possessed observations of Venus written down under king Ammisaduqa (1646-1626 according to the Middle Chronology), detailed stellar catalogues from the eighth century -our Zodiac was invented in Babylon-, and astronomical diaries from the seventh century until the first century BCE.

The Astronomical Diaries, a large collection of texts from Babylon that is now in the British
Museum, offer exactly that. A complete Diary dealt with six months, each divided into two halves:

The astronomical observations, arranged day by day. We learn about the positions of the moon, eclipses, solstices, equinoxes, and the positions of the planets. The rising and setting of Sirius are also noted. Sometimes, the Chaldaean who wrote the texts, disarmingly remarks "clouds were in the sky" or "I did not watch". It ends with a summary.

Acts and facts that were thought to have been predicted by the celestial omens. Here, we can find the level of the river Euphrates, the prices of commodities (barley, dates, mustard, sesame, wool...), and political events.

It is likely that the regular observation of the skies, started during the reign of king Nabo-Nasir (747-734 BCE). Our oldest tablet dates back to 652/651; the youngest to 61/60 BCE. The activities of the Chaldaeans are probably the longest research program ever.

Because there was so much data available to Babylonian astronomers, their results could be pretty accurate. An example is the length of the synodic month, i.e., the period between two full moons, which they were able to establish with an error of only a couple of minutes. The same can be said for the length of the year.

The Egyptian

The Egyptians were probably the first to adopt a mainly solar calendar. They noted that the Dog
Star, Sirius, reappeared in the eastern sky just before sunrise after several months of invisibility.
They also observed that the annual flooding of the Nile River came soon after Sirius reappeared.

The ancient civil Egyptian calendar, was known as the Annus Vagus or "Wandering Year", made up of 12 months each 30 days long, and an extra five days added at the end. These five days became a festival because it was thought to be unlucky to work during that time.

But they did not allow for the extra quarter of a day, and their calendar drifted into error. According to the famed Egyptologist J. H. Breasted, the earliest date known in the Egyptian calendar corresponds to 4236 B.C. in terms of the Gregorian calendar.

The ancient Egyptians originally employed a calendar based upon the Moon, and, like many peoples throughout the world, they regulated their lunar calendar by means of the guidance of a sidereal calendar. They used the seasonal appearance of the star Sirius (Sothis); this corresponded closely to the true solar year, being only 12 minutes shorter. One could ask. How did they measure minutes? They used both water and shadow clocks. Certain difficulties arose, however, because of the inherent incompatibility of lunar and solar years.

To solve this problem the Egyptians invented a schematized civil year of 365 days divided into three seasons, each of which consisted of four months of 30 days each. As mentioned before to complete the year, five intercalary days were added at its end, so that the 12 months were equal to 360 days plus five extra days.

The Egyptian festival calendar

The months were divided into 3 "weeks" of ten days each. This calendar was in use by at least 2700 BCE, but probably before that. A text from the reign of First Dynasty King Djer indicates that the Egyptians had already established a link between the heliacal rising and the beginning of the year.

The Egyptians seem to have used a lunar calendar at an earlier date, but when they discovered the discrepancy between the lunar calendar and the actual passage of time, they switched to a calendar based on the Nile inundation.

The calendar system of ancient Egypt is unique to both the cosmology of the Egyptians and their religion. Unlike the modern Julian calendar system, with its 365 days to a year, the Egyptians followed a calendar system of 360 days, with three seasons, each made up of 4 months, with thirty days in each month.

The seasons of the Egyptians corresponded with the cycles of the Nile, and were known as Inundation (pronounced akhet which lasted from June 21st to October 21st),

Emergence (pronounced proyet which lasted from October 21st to February 21st), and Summer (pronounced shomu which lasted from February 21st to June 21st).

The heliacal rising of Sothis (Sirius) returned to the same point in the calendar every 1460 years (a period called the Sothic cycle).

The difference between a seasonal year and a civil year was therefore 365 days in 1460 years, or 1 day in 4 years. Similarly, the Egyptians were aware that 309 lunations nearly equaled 9125 days, or 25 Egyptian years, this was likely used in the construction of the secondary lunar calendar.

Egyptian Month Comparisons.

The Roman

The Roman calendar changed its form several times in the time between the foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Here I will discuss the early Roman or 'pre-Julian' calendars. The calendar used after 46 BC is discussed under the Julian calendar.

Roman Calendar pre Julian

An inscription containing the Roman calendar, which predates the Julian reform of the calendar.

To begin with it was a lunar calendar containing ten months, starting at the vernal equinox, traditionally invented by Romulus, the founder of Rome about 753 BC. However it seems to have been based on the Greek lunar calendar. The months at this time were

• Martius (31 days)
• Aprilis (30 days)
• Maius (31 days)
• Junius (30 days)
• Quintilis (31 days)
• Sextilis (30 days)
• September (30 days)
• October (31 days)
• November (30 days) and
• December (30 days)

Roman Fasti There have been found some 200 fragments of Roman calendars, and they are
collectively known as Fasti (depicted below)

Roman Fasti

Fasti is used as a substantive, derived from fas, meaning what is binding, or allowable, by divine law. Fasti dies thus came to mean the days on which law business might be transacted without impiety, corresponding to our own lawful days; the opposite of the dies fasti were the dies nefasti, on which, on various religious grounds, the courts could not sit.

The word fasti itself then came to be used to denote lists or registers of various kinds, and especially those that had to do with keeping or marking time or in our words a calendar.

The first reform of the calendar

was attributed to Numa pompilius, the second of the seven traditional Kings of Rome.
He is said to have reduced the 30- day months to 29 days and to have added January (29 days)

And February (28 days) to the end of the calendar around 713 BC, and thus brought the length of the calendar year up to 355 days:

In the calendar of the ancient Romans, the months contained three primary markers – the Kalends, the Nones and the Ides. The Kalends were always the first day of the month. The Nones were usually the 5th but sometimes the 7th , and the Ides were the 15th but sometimes the 13th

All the days after the Ides were numbered by counting down towards the next month's Kalends. The holidays were generally bunched together to form continuous celebrations, and the remaining days of the month were usually nondescript workdays.

The days were each identified with certain letters and names. The Kalends were always identified as shown in the diagram above. The archaic form of the K, for Kalends, was used in front of the name of the month. The first letter was called the Nundinae ("nine day") , or the Nundinal letter, and it represented the market day. Every 9th day (counting inclusively) was a market day, but as it shifted every year, a designated letter between A and H would represent the market day for that year. The final letter identifies the type of day for purposes of religious observance or legal business. Months with Nones on the 7th and Ides on the 15th days: March, May, July, October.

The Julian

The old Roman calendar was very complicated and required a group of men, known as the pontiffs, to decide when days should be added or removed to keep the calendar in track with the seasons. This made planning ahead difficult and the pontiffs were open to bribery by them in order to prolong their term as elected officials or hasten elections.

The Julian calendar was introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar and came into force in 45 BC this equates to 709 Anno Urbis Conditae: AUC and is Latin for "from the founding of Rome, traditionally set in 753 BCE.).

It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year, known at least since Hipparchus. It has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months, and a leap day is added to February every four years. Hence the Julian year is on average 365.25 days long.

The notation "Old Style" (OS) is sometimes used to indicate a date in the Julian calendar, as opposed to "New Style" (NS), which indicates a date in the Gregorian calendar. This notation is used when there might otherwise be confusion about which date is found in a text.

Although the Julian calendar remained in use into the 20th century in some countries and is still used by many national Orthodox churches, it has generally been replaced for civil use by the modern Gregorian calendar. Orthodox Churches no longer using the Julian calendar typically use the Revised Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar.

Reform was required because too many leap days are added with respect to the astronomical seasons on the Julian scheme. On average, the astronomical solstices and the equinoxes advance by about 11 minutes per year against the Julian year, causing the calendar to gain a day about every 134 years. While Hipparchus and presumably Sosigenes were aware of the discrepancy, although not of its correct value, it was evidently felt to be of little importance. However, it accumulated significantly over time, and eventually led to the reform of 1582, which replaced the Julian calendar with the more accurate Gregorian calendar.

The Julian calendar introduces an error of 1 day every 128 years. So every 128 years the tropical year shifts one day backwards with respect to the calendar. Furthermore, the method for calculating the dates for Easter was inaccurate and needed to be refined.

In order to remedy this, two steps were necessary:

1) The Julian calendar had to be replaced by something more adequate.
2) The extra days that the Julian calendar had inserted had to be dropped.

The solution to problem 1, was the Gregorian calendar.

The solution to problem 2, depended on the fact that it was felt that 21 March was the proper day for vernal equinox (because 21 March was the date for vernal equinox during the Council of Nicaea in AD 325). The Gregorian calendar was therefore calibrated to make that day vernal equinox. By 1582 vernal equinox had moved (1582-325)/128 days = approximately 10 days backwards. So 10 days had to be dropped.


Pope Gregory XII writing in his Bull Inter Gravissimas says:-

“So thus that the vernal equinox, which was fixed by the fathers of the [first] Nicene Council at XII calends April [March 21], is replaced on this date, we prescribe and order that there is removed, from October of the year the 1582, the ten days which go from the third before Nones [the 5th] through the day before the Ides [the 14th] inclusively”9

The Bull from which the above is taken ordered the advancement of the calendar by 10 days and introduced a new corrective device to curb error: century years such as 1700 or 1800 would no longer be counted as leap years, unless they were (like 1600 or 2000) divisible by 400. If somewhat inelegant, this system is undeniably effective. The Gregorian calendar year differs from the solar year by only 26 seconds—accurate enough for most mortals, since this only adds up to one day's difference every 3,323 years.

Despite the prudence of Pope Gregory's correction, many Protestant countries, including England, were not going to agree with this Papist instruction so ignored the papal bull. Germany and the Netherlands agreed to adopt the Gregorian calendar in 1698; Russia only accepted it after the revolution of 1918, and Greece waited until 1923 to follow suit. Currently many Orthodox churches still follow the Julian calendar, which now lags 13 days behind the Gregorian.

In Britain September 2, 1752, was a great day in the history of sleep. That Wednesday evening, millions of British subjects in England and the colonies went peacefully to sleep and did not wake up until twelve days later. Behind this feat of narcoleptic prowess was not some revolutionary hypnotic technique or miraculous pharmaceutical discovered in the West Indies.

It was, rather, the British Calendar Act of 1751, which declared the day after Wednesday the second to be Thursday the fourteenth. Prior to that cataleptic September evening, the official British calendar differed from that of continental Europe by eleven days—that is, September 2 in London was September 13 in Paris, Lisbon, and Berlin. The discrepancy had sprung from Britain's continued use of the Julian calendar, which had been the official calendar of Europe since its invention by Julius Caesar.

It is thanks to that British Calendar Act of 1751 that we here today can date our days the same as most western countries, but what of other countries.

Calendars and Religion

Religion has and still does have effect on calendars. The ecclesiastical calendars of Christian churches are based on cycles of movable and immovable feasts. Christmas is the principal immovable feast, with its date set at December 25. Easter is the principal movable feast, and dates of most other movable feasts are determined with respect to Easter. However, the movable feasts of the Advent and Epiphany seasons are Sundays reckoned from Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany, respectively.

In the Gregorian calendar, the date of Easter is defined to occur on the Sunday following the ecclesiastical Full Moon that falls on or next after March 21. This should not be confused with the popular notion that Easter is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon following the vernal equinox.

In the first place, the vernal equinox does not necessarily occur on March 21. In addition, the ecclesiastical Full Moon is not the astronomical Full Moon -- it is based on tables that do not take into account the full complexity of lunar motion. As a result, the date of an ecclesiastical Full Moon may differ from that of the true Full Moon. However, the Gregorian system of leap years and lunar tables does prevent progressive departure of the tabulated data from the astronomical phenomena.

As it exists today, the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar that is based on calculation rather than observation. This calendar is the official calendar of Israel and is the liturgical calendar of the Jewish faith.

In principle the beginning of each month is determined by a tabular New Moon (molad) that is based on an adopted mean value of the lunation cycle. To ensure that religious festivals occur in appropriate seasons, months are intercalated according to the Metonic cycle, in which 235 lunations occur in nineteen years.

By tradition, days of the week are designated by number, with only the seventh day, Sabbath, having a specific name. Days are reckoned from sunset to sunset, so that day 1 begins at sunset on Saturday and ends at sunset on Sunday. The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.

The Islamic calendar is a purely lunar calendar in which months correspond to the lunar phase cycle. As a result, the cycle of twelve lunar months regresses through the seasons over a period of about 33 years. For religious purposes, Muslims begin the months with the first visibility of the lunar crescent after conjunction. For civil purposes a tabulated calendar that approximates the lunar phase cycle is often used.

The seven-day week is observed with each day beginning at sunset. Weekdays are specified by number, with day 1 beginning at sunset on Saturday and ending at sunset on Sunday. Day 6, (Friday) which is called Jum'a, is the day for congregational prayers. Unlike the Sabbath days of the Christians and Jews, however, Jum'a is not a day of rest. Jum'a begins at sunset on Thursday and ends at sunset on Friday.

The following is a comparison of the calendars that I have found in my research,

Other Calendar developments

Since 1930 there has been an organisation promoting the advantages of a world calendar, a brief summary of its features is as follows.

The World Calendar
• Every year is the same.
• The quarters are equal: each has exactly 91 days, 13 weeks or 3 months; the quarters are identical in form with an ordered variation within the three months.
• The three months have 31, 30, 30 days respectively.
• Each month has 26 weekdays, plus Sundays.
• Each year begins on Sunday 1 January; each working year begins on Monday 2 January.
• Each quarter begins on Sunday, ends on Saturday.
• The calendar is stabilized and made perpetual by ending the year with a 365th day following
30 December each year.

This additional day is dated 'W,' which equals 31 December, and called Worldsday, a year-end world holiday. Leap-year Day is similarly added at the end of the second quarter. It is likewise dated 'W,' or 31 June, and called Leapyear Day, another world holiday in leap years.

Our present calendar is not perennial, but annual. It changes every year. It does so because its typical 365-day cycle is not evenly divisible by the number of days in the week: 365 ÷ 7 = 52, r 1.

The unfortunate consequence of that one-day remainder is that the year typically begins and ends on the same weekday. So the next year must begin on the following weekday. This requires a new calendar every year.

Technically, our Gregorian calendar is a variously ordered cycle of 14 calendars. The calendar for the year beginning on Sunday differs from the one for the year beginning on Monday, and so on for all seven weekdays. Since the occurrence of leap year can alter any of these seven calendars, this raises the total to 14 calendars.

More Advantages of the World Calendar:
  1. Numbered days of the month always fall on the same weekdays: so the birthday of Tuesday's Child is always on a Tuesday.
  2. No need to schedule events by cumbersome weekday-and-month designations, like US Election Day, "First Tuesday after the First Monday in November": Election Day will always be Nov. 7; Thanksgiving (US) will always be on November 23rd.
  3. The year divides regularly into quarters of equal size (91 days), with the same number of workdays (65) and weekend-days (26) in each quarter: a great improvement over the Gregorian calendar for statistical comparisons between quarters.
  4. The variations in month-length are more regular than the Gregorian calendar: most months have 30 days; the first months of the quarters (Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct) have 31. Excluding Sundays, all months have the same number of days: 26.
  5. Transition from the Gregorian calendar would be extremely simple: reform could be instituted in 2012 (a Gregorian year beginning on Sunday) and only a few dates in February, March, April, May, August and December would be affected.
Some Disadvantages of the World Calendar:
  1. Religious groups obliged to worship every seven days will have a problem with off-calendar days: sometimes there will be seven days between two occurrences of the weekday they choose to worship.
  2. There are FOUR Fridays the 13th EVERY YEAR!

In conclusion dating our ancient documents does require some thought especially in the light of works made by some authors claiming to be experts on Masonry relative to the history and beginnings of Freemasonry.

The public’s perception of masonry seems based on their exposure to anti masonic propaganda and claims made by authors like Dan Brown in the Da Vinci Code as well as other sensationalist publications. It is therefore imperative that we as members of ANZMRC take all aspects, facts and timing of our research as seriously as we can.

I do hope that this paper has been informative. There is much not mentioned in this a work as it must be limited in size and delivery time.


1 Wm Shakespeare Macbeth
2 Marking Time.. Duncan Steel
3 Albert G. Mackey The Origin and Progress of Freemasonry.
4 The Dating of Masonic Records by W.Bro. ALAIN BERNHEIM 33°
5 Andersons Constitutions
6 Craig, G. Y. and E. J. Jones. A Geological Miscellany. Princeton University Press, 1982.
7 Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Albert Mackey 1917
8 The Stories of the Months and Days By Reginald C. Couzens 1923,
9 Pope Gregory XII writing in his Bull Inter Gravissimas says:-

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