do you know about calendars? What do you know about the Bangla
calendar? Or the Gregorian calendar? The Chinese calendar?
The Islamic calendar? The following text is about how Western
countries developed their imperfect calendar.
Look at the headings in the box and match them to the paragraphs
To the first people it was obvious that time went in circles.
The sun rises (comes up in the morning) and sets (goes down
in the evening). The moon gets fatter or wider and gets thinner
or narrower. The seasons follow each other in order. These
things happen because we are all going round in circles…the
earth spins round in 24 hours, the moon goes around the Earth,
and the Earth goes round the Sun in about 365 and a quarter
days. The most natural kind of calendar comes from the sun
and the moon. You can count the number of days and nights
in the moon's cycle from New Moon (when it is all dark) to
Full Moon (a bright disk), and back again: 29 and a half.
problem for calendar makers is how to get the months (which
come from the moon) to stay synchronised with the years. The
years all have a bit more than 12 New Moons in them. Some
years the Chinese calendar has an extra month so they have
exactly 235 months in every period of 19 years. The western
world solved the same problem by adding an extra day in leap
years and having longer months the rest of the time.
You can't find any cycles of seven days by looking at the
sky. However, the ancient world knew five planets apart from
the sun and moon: Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
They probably made the week seven days long to give one day
for each. In English, the first days of the week clearly come
from The Sun (Sunday) and The Moon (Monday). The last day
comes from Saturn (Saturday). Just like the rest of our language,
an English week is a mixture of Latin and words from other
places … Germanic gods: Tiw (an Anglo-Saxon god of the
sun and war) and Wodin (the head of Anglo-Saxon gods) for
Tuesday and Wednesday and Scandinavian gods Thor (another
god of war) and Frigg (goddess of love) for Thursday and Friday.
Our names of months all come from Latin. Janus a god with
two faces, the god of doors and gates gives us January; and
February comes from a Roman festival of spring cleaning. Mars,
who didn't get a day of the week in English, got the whole
month of March. Jupiter, well his wife was Juno which makes
the month of June. Most of the later months just come from
the Latin words for numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 septem, octo, nove,
decem. So why isn't September month number seven? It was for
the Romans, because they started the year with March.
July is occupied by Julius Caesar and August by Augustus Caesar
who was the next Roman emperor. These two men both played
an important role in creating the modern calendar. The Julian
calendar (which Julius introduced in 46 BC) had a leap year
every four years, when one day was added onto the end of the
year (as it was then) on February 29th. Julius' calendar was
much simpler than the old one, and it was pretty accurate,
although not as good as the Chinese one. It was only 11 minutes
and 14 seconds a year too slow. Somehow, the people in charge
of the calendars in Rome didn't understand their instructions
and added an extra day every three years. Augustus, the next
emperor, corrected that mistake but left the leap years as
they were, so the calendar went on being 11 minutes a year
too slow for centuries.
Over the centuries those 11 extra minutes in the Julian calendar
added up to quite a lot. Our modern "Gregorian"
calendar goes more quickly because we don't have leap years
at the end of most centuries only 1600 and 2000. When Pope
Gregory introduced it in 1582, they had to take out 10 days
to catch up. The year jumped directly from 4th to 15th October.
In the same year, William Shakespeare got married in Stratford-upon-Avon,
but Britain went on for another 180 years with the old calendar.
By 1752, when Britain changed to the new Gregorian calendar,
they needed to miss 11 days to catch up. This caused violent
protests…people thought the government was making their
lives 11 days shorter, or even worse, stealing their wages
for the 11 missing days. In Russia, the years carried on being
a bit too long right into the twentieth century. In 1918 Russia
missed the whole first half of February: going directly from
31st January to 14th February. Maybe they were pleased to
get closer to the summer.
Look at the text more carefully now and try to answer the
long is a moon cycle?
2. Where do we get the seven names for the seven days of the
3. Which was the first month of the year in the Roman calendar?
4. How slow was Julius Caesar's calendar?
5. What mistake did Augustus correct?
6. When was the Gregorian calendar introduced?
7. When did Britain adopt the Gregorian calendar?
8. When did Russia change to the Gregorian calendar?
are twelve sentences. In each sentence a word has been removed.
The missing words are is out, just, spin or well.
Read the sentence and then decide which is the missing word.
the words into the correct sentences.
1. If someone puts a certain ........................... on
an event or situation, they interpret it and try to present
it in a particular way.
2. ....................... is used in front of past participles
to indicate that something is done to a high standard or to
a great extent.
3. If a plane goes into a ........................... , it
falls very rapidly towards the ground in a spiral movement.
4. You say ........................... to indicate that you
are waiting for someone to say something and often to express
your irritation with them.
5. You use ........................... to emphasize that a
particular thing is exactly what is needed or fits a particular
6. If an emotion ..........................s in you, it suddenly
becomes stronger, to the point where you have to express it.
7. If you say that a calculation or measurement is ...........................
, you mean that it is incorrect.
8. If something such as a book or record is ...........................
, it has been published and is available for people to buy.
9. If you say that you can ........................... see
or hear something, you mean that it is easy for you to imagine
seeing or hearing it.
10. If you say that a particular thing is ...........................
, you mean that it is no longer fashionable at the present
11. If you say that something happened ...........................
after a particular time or event or ...........................
before it, you mean that it happened immediately after or
12. If you go for a ........................... or take a
car for a ........................... , you make a short journey
in a car just to enjoy yourself.
A-5, B-4, C-1, D-3, E-2
ii) 1. 29.5 days & nights, 2. 5 planets, sun & moon,
3. March, 4. 11mins, 14 secs, 5. Leap year every 3 years-4years,
6. 1582, 7. 1752, 8.1918
iii) 1. 3, 13-spin, 2. 4-well, 6 wells, 5. 9, 11-just, 7,
6. 8, 10-out
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