The Distinctions Between Natural and Civil Calendar Systems

The Distinctions Between Natural and Civil Calendar Systems

Jul 29 2009

The Universal Relevance of Calendars There are 3 principle questions asked by those who encounter the complexity of the Mesoamerican Calendrical system (MAC). Why and how did the Ancient Mesoamericans devise the worlds most elaborate calendrical system and what were the Mesoamericans tracking with their 260 day Tzolkin cycle? To the layperson hearing about the “end of the Mayan Calendar”, the question is…what’s the big deal about a calendar ending? And what, if any relevance does such an event have to my life, so that I might bother looking into such an obscure topic? The questions of relevance to those other than a calendrical researcher are perfectly understandable. After all doesn’t the entire world operate by the West’s Gregorian calendar and why is one calendar better or more notable than any other? Aren’t calendars simply tools for coordinating our activities with others, and to mark certain days of cultural or personal significance? On the surface it may seem simple, and we don’t give it a second thought. I would say that one of our most basic assumptions about the inherited portion of one’s culture is the calendar that we use to coordinate our lives. The assumption is that most of us don’t think to question its purpose, validity, authority, existence, and even less its constitution…much like we don’t question the existence of the sky or ground. Unquestionable because its presence, though felt, is so subtle and at the same time so pervasive that it’s easily assumed as a background condition, similar to breathing. But what if I told you that a calendar could be compared to the operating system of a computer. A civil...