As 2018 comes around, some are hoping for change to come with the new year, others are pointing out how arbitrary the year is and how a days difference won’t make a difference. So what makes a year and how did it begin?

The calendar we use now is known as the Gregorian, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII and first adopted in 1582 in catholic countries but it took a while for this to catch on; in fact it took almost 200 years for the system to be adopted in the UK due to the association of the calendar with the Catholic Church. You probably know the rules: 12 months per year, leap year every 4th year except those divisible by 100 unless divisible by 400. 

So why the Gregorian calendar? The Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar looks very similar to the Gregorian calendar however it calculated leap years too often. Eventually, the dates would fall out of place with seasons and events like equinoxes and solstices. Despite being favoured over the Julian calendar for accuracy, the Gregorian calendar isn’t perfect. However, at least for now, the inaccuracy is negligible as it will only drift 1 day in over 3000 years.

Calendar reforms are probably the least of your worries but is there a better way? Not all calendars aim to be the most perfect in accuracy. For example the Hanke-Henry calendar aims to be convenient as possible. In this calendar system every year will be identical to the last and days will always fall on the same dates. The calendar would be business friendly and saves the effort of creating an entirely new calendar for the next year. There are more accurate calendars than the Gregorian calendar already in existence: the Persian calendar for example. But maybe change is too difficult to be worth it. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the inertia of the public.