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Touring Ends of Eras


A ball drops; some scholars open red envelopes while others dip apple bits in honey. Different cultures around the world celebrate the new year differently and at different times, but all of them are marking the forward march of the calendar. Yet the fact that there are so many ways to split one year from the next suggests these divisions are ultimately arbitrary. Are they? Explore the reasons behind each of them, then discuss with your team: should we stop celebrating New Year’s as a holiday? When would be the best time of year for people to take stock of the past and think about the future?

Captain’s log,” says whoever is captaining the Enterprise. “Stardate…” Star Trek’s stardates are based on a calendar meant to be used around the galaxy. Consider the different calendars and related listed below, then discuss with your team: does it make sense to restart the calendar periodically, perhaps when a new leader takes over? Or would such changes risk angering people—as when the English allegedly rioted over the loss of eleven days as part of a calendar transition in 1752?

Star Trek is the TV series and movie franchise about a scientific and diplomatic starship exploring the edges of the universe for new life forms. Many episodes begin with the captain's logs about approaching a new planet or reflection about their life on the ship. They use the date system stardate which is a universal calendar used throughout their known galaxy. In the latest Star Trek Beyond movies, the main character is Captain Kirk played by Chris Pine. 

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Japan is said to have drawn up its first calendar in 604, based on techniques developed in China and brought to its islands via the Korean Peninsula. Historically, Japan like China uses the lunar calendar which has 354 days and occasionally needed to add an extra month. Although Japan adopted the standard Gregorian calendar in 1873, many still follow the traditional calendar for traditional holidays. On the right is a sample of their calendar.  Japan also uses era names similar to China which marks the era of the leader's reign, which was introduced in 645, and there have been 248 era names in total. Since 1868, there has been just one era name associated with each emperor, but historically they changed more frequently. As Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1, 2019, it is now the Reiwa era. This means that while January to April of 2019 was Heisei 31, May to December is Reiwa 1. Japan also follows the zodiac signs with 12-year cycles, each year with a different animal sign.

The five special auspicious sekku or seasonal festivals are:

1) January 7 (jinjitsu no sekku), people eat nanakusa-gayu (seven-herb rice porridge), traditionally associated with prayers for good harvests and health in the year ahead.

2) March 3 (momo no sekku) is the Hinamatsuri, a festival celebrating daughters

3) May 5 (tango no sekku) is Boys’ Day, although the modern national holiday is known as Children’s Day.

4) July 7 Tanabata, or the star festival, it is common to write and display wishes on colored paper.

5) September 9 (chōyō no sekku), the least well known of these festivals, chrysanthemums are commonly displayed at temples.

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‘Give us our eleven days!’ The English calendar riots of 1752. The eleven days referred to here are the ‘lost’ 11 days of September 1752, skipped when Britain changed over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, bringing UK into line with most of Europe. The Gregorian calendar is today’s international calendar, named after the man who first introduced it in February 1582, Pope Gregory XIII. Before 1752, Britain and her Empire followed the Julian calendar, first implemented by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. This calendar was off by1 day every 128 years, due to a miscalculation of the solar year by 11 minutes. This affected the date of Easter, traditionally observed on March 21.

First to adopt the new calendar in 1582 were France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Turkey was the last country to officially switch to the new system on January 1st, 1927. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 introduced the Gregorian calendar to the British Empire, bringing Britain into line with most of Western Europe.

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Claims of civil unrest and rioters demanding “Give us our eleven days” may have arisen through a misinterpretation of a contemporary painting by William Hogarth. His 1755 painting entitled: “An Election Entertainment” refers to the elections of 1754 and depicts a tavern dinner organised by Whig candidates. A stolen Tory campaign banner with the slogan, “Give us our Eleven Days” can be seen lower right (on the black banner on the floor under the seated gentleman’s foot). However, most historians now believe that these protests never happened. You could say that the calendar rioters were the late Georgian equivalent of an urban myth.

The Julian calendar is a solar calendar of 365 days in every year with an additional leap day every fourth year (without exception). The Julian calendar is still used as a religious calendar in parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church and in parts of Oriental Orthodoxy as well as by the Amazigh people of North Africa.


The Julian calendar was proposed in 46 BC by (and takes its name from) Julius Caesar, as a reform of the earlier Roman calendar, which was largely a lunisolar one, meaning one that incorporates both lunar and solar positions.  Caesar, advised by the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, introduced the Egyptian solar calendar, taking the length of the solar year as 365 1/4 days. It took effect on 1 January 45 BC, by his edict. Caesar's calendar became the predominant calendar in the Roman Empire and subsequently most of the Western world for more than 1,600 years, until 1582. The current discrepancy  between the Julian and Gregorian calendars is 13 days. However, the difference will become 14 days in 2100.


The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. It went into effect in October 1582 following the papal bull Inter gravissimas issued by Pope Gregory XIII, which introduced it as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian calendar. The principal change was to space leap years differently so as to make the average calendar year 365.2425 days long, more closely approximating the 365.2422-day 'tropical' or 'solar' year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun.

The rule for leap years is: Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700,1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is. — United States Naval Observatory

The Hijri  also known in English as the Muslim calendar and  Islamic calendar, is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, including annual fasting (Ramadan) and the annual season for the great pilgrimage. In almost all countries where the predominant religion is Islam, the civil calendar is the Gregorian calendar, but the religious calendar is the Hijri one. It was established

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as the Islamic New Year in 622 CE. During that year, Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina and established the first Muslim community, an event commemorated as the Hijrah. Dates in this calendar are denoted as AH and BH for before Hijri. Since 19 July 2023 CE, the current Islamic year is 1445 AH.


Similar to most traditional calendars of other East Asian countries, the Korean Calendar is derived from the Chinese calendar. The traditional calendar designated its years via Korean era names from 270 to 963, then Chinese era names with Korean era names at a few times until 1894. Currently, the civil calendar is the Gregorian calendar. 

Although not being an official calendar, in South Korea, the traditional Korean calendar is still maintained by the government. The current version is based on East Asia's Shixian calendar, which was in turn revised by Jesuit scholars.

In North Korea, the Juche calendar has been used since 1997 to number its years, based on the birth of the state's founder Kim Il Sung.

The Rumi calendar is a specific calendar based on the Julian calendar, which was officially used by the Ottoman Empire starting1839 and by its successor, the Republic of Turkey until 1926. The Julian calendar, used from 1677 AD on for fiscal matters only, was adopted on March 13, 1840 AD (March 1, 1256 AH), shortly after the accession to the throne of Sultan Abdülmecid I, as the official calendar for all civic matters and named "Rumi calendar" (literally Roman calendar).  With the change from lunar calendar to solar calendar, the difference between the Rumi calendar and the Julian or Gregorian calendar remained a constant 584 years.

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Vikram Samvat also known as the Vikrami calendar is a Hindu calendar historically used in the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of Nepal. It is a solar calendar, using twelve to thirteen lunar months each solar sidereal years. The year count of the Vikram Samvat calendar is usually 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, except during January to April, when it is ahead by 56 years.

The Vikram Samvat (called Bikram Sambat in Nepal) calendar should not be confused with the Nepal Sambat, a much more recent innovation.


Nepal Sambat is the lunar calendar used by Nepali of Nepal. The calendar era began on 20 October 879 CE, with 1143 in Nepal Sambat corresponding to the year 2022–2023 CE. Nepal Sambat appeared on coins, stone and copper plate inscriptions, royal decrees, chronicles, Hindu and Buddhist manuscripts, legal documents and correspondence.


The Maya calendar is a system of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in many modern communities in the Guatemalan highlands, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico. The Maya calendar consists of several cycles or counts of different lengths. The 260-day count is known as the Tzolkin. The Tzolkin was combined with a 365-day vague solar year known as the Haabʼ to form a synchronized cycle lasting for 52 Haabʼ called the Calendar RoundThe tzolkʼin calendar combines twenty day names with the thirteen day numbers to produce 260 unique days. It is used to determine the time of religious and ceremonial events and for divination. Each successive day is numbered from 1 up to 13 and then starting again at 1. Separately from this, every day is given a name in sequence from a list of 20 day names.

A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the season or almost equivalently the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars. The Gregorian calendar, widely accepted as a standard in the world, is an example of a solar calendar. The Egyptians appear to have been the first to develop a solar calendar, using as a fixed point the annual sunrise reappearance of the Dog Star—Sirius, or Sothis—in the eastern sky, which coincided with the annual flooding of the Nile River. They constructed a calendar of 365 days, consisting of 12 months of 30 days each, with 5 days added at the year’s end. The Egyptians’ failure to account for the extra fraction of a day, however, caused their calendar to drift gradually into error.

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A lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the moon's phases, in contrast to solar calendars, whose annual cycles are based on the solar year. The most widely observed purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar. A purely lunar calendar is distinguished from a lunisolar calendar, whose lunar months are brought into alignment with the solar year through some adjustments – such as by insertion of a leap monthSince each lunation is approximately 29+1⁄2 days, it is common for the months of a lunar calendar to alternate between 29 and 30 days. Since the period of 12 such lunations, a lunar year, is 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 34 seconds, purely lunar calendars are 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year. In purely lunar calendars, which do not make use of intercalation, the lunar months cycle through all the seasons of a solar year over the course of a 33–34 lunar-year cycle. 


A storytelling trope is that high school seniors know nothing will ever be the same again for them and their friends. (The trope is accurate.) The same weight can apply to entire countries and calendars. In 1996, aware the millennium was ending, American president Bill Clinton hoped to deliver an Inaugural Address for the ages. Reviewing it can provide insight into how people in the 1990s were reimagining their world. “Ten years ago,” he said, “the Internet was the mystical province of physicists; today, it is a commonplace encyclopedia for millions of schoolchildren.” No mention of e-commerce, nor a whisper of social media. Then, evoking the academic Francis Fukayama’s theory of the end of history, he adds, “The world is no longer divided into two hostile camps… For the very first time in history, more people on this planet live under democracy than dictatorship.” Review more of his speech, then discuss with your team: does it sound like one that a political leader could deliver today? Were the 1990s an important period of transition in your own country as well?

As the last inaugural address of the 20th century, Clinton tried to spark hope for the American dream going into the 21st century. It's really inspiring, and I urge you all to read it in its entirety. Some tell-tale signs that it is from the 1990s: 

"As this new era approaches we can already see its broad outlines. Ten years ago, the Internet was the mystical province of physicists; today, it is a commonplace encyclopedia for millions of schoolchildren. Scientists now are decoding the blueprint of human life. Cures for our most feared illnesses seem close at hand."

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"In this new land, education will be every citizen's most prized possession. Our schools will have the highest standards in the world, igniting the spark of possibility in the eyes of every girl and every boy. And the doors of higher education will be open to all. The knowledge and power of the Information Age will be within reach not just of the few, but of every classroom, every library, every child. Parents and children will have time not only to work, but to read and play together. And the plans they make at their kitchen table will be those of a better home, a better job, the certain chance to go to college."

For the most part the message about unity against division, global leadership, education and family values, inclusion and economy are consistent with the messages of today. These messages may have new meaning and catch phrases, but if delivered, 90% of this message would still resonate - making this a timeless speech.

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In 1989, a policy wonk in the US State Department wrote a paper for the right-leaning international relations magazine The National Interest entitled “The End of History?”. His name was Francis Fukuyama, and the paper stirred such interest – and caused such controversy – that he was soon contracted to expand his 18-page article into a book. He did so in 1992: The End of History and the Last Man

Fukuyama’s use of the word “history” here is best approximated by synonyms in sociology such as “modernisation” or “development”. His argument was that the unfolding of history had revealed – albeit in fits and starts – the ideal form of political organisation: liberal democratic states tied to market economies.

For him, a liberal democratic state requires three things.

1) Democracy:  allowing elections, but the outcomes result in the implementation of the will of the citizenry.

2) Authority + Strength: State possesses sufficient strength and authority to enforce its laws and administer services.

3) Constrain: The state – and its highest representatives – are not above the law.

Explore the following selections from the 90s—multiple 90s, in this case—then discuss with your team: do they reflect periods in which the world was in transition more than songs from other decades before and after—or would that be reading too much into them?

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The video is of Charles K. Harris singing his own song "After the Ball," from A Trip to Chinatown. Published in 1892, it was supposedly the first song to sell a million copies of sheet music. In 1892, Harris wrote "After the Ball", a song about an old man recounting the story of his long-lost love to his niece. He caught the attention of John Philip Sousa, who played the tune at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, boosting sheet music sales to in excess of five million copies in the 1890s. This is a link to sheet music version of the song with lyrics. A very sentimental ballad and classic of the 1890s with grand emotion. In those days a lot of people enjoyed being shocked, feeling sad, even crying over a song.

"Freedom! '90" (also known simply as "Freedom!") is a song written, produced, and performed by English singer-songwriter George Michael, in October 1990. You guys probably know his other hit song "Last Christmas I gave you my heart...." The "'90" added to the end of the title is to prevent confusion with a hit by Michael's former band Wham!, also entitled "Freedom". The song's backing beat is a sample from James Brown's song "Funky Drummer". Michael refused to appear in the music video for the song, directed by David Fincher, and cast a group of supermodels to appear instead. Some iconic memorable lines: "Freedom I won't let you down, freedom I will not give you up, freedom Gotta have some faith in the sound. You got to give what you take. It's the one good thing that I've got, freedom. I won't let you down, freedom So please don't give me up, freedom Cause I would really, really love to stick around."

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"Losing My Religion" is a song by American alternative rock band R.E.M., released in February 1991 by Warner Bros. as the first single and the second track from the group's seventh album, Out of Time (1991). Built on a mandolin riff, it was written by lead singer Michael Stipe and is about unrequited love. Stipe has repeatedly stated that the song's lyrics are not about religion. The phrase "losing my religion" is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means "losing one's temper or civility" or "feeling frustrated and desperate." Stipe told The New York Times the song was about romantic expression.  He told Q that "Losing My Religion" is also about "someone who pines for someone else. It's unrequited love, what have you."


Wait. This is another song.... This is the original of the famous 90's pop song "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia.  Lis Sørensen is a Danish pop/rock singer and songwriter. In 1983, Lis Sørensen released her first solo album. She is also known for being the first artist to record Ednaswap's "Torn", which was renamed "Brændt" (Danish for "Burned").

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This song is by popular Ukrainian / Russia singer Alyona Sviridova and as far as we can tell it is about romantic love and past lives. The pink flamingo is a symbol for love and perfection that is surreal. 

"Black Hole Sun" is a song by American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, the song was released in 1994 by A&M Records as the third single from the band's fourth studio album, Superunknown (1994). Considered to be the band's signature song. Cornell said that he wrote the song in about 15 minutes. He used a Gretsch guitar to write the song, and commented, "I wrote the song thinking the band wouldn't like it—then it became the biggest hit of the summer." Even though it sounds pretty, the sun is quite pessimistic. 


"Black hole sun, won't you come

Wash away the rain..."

"Singing in My Sleep" is a song by American rock band Semisonic. It was released in August 1998 as the second single from their second studio album, Feeling Strangely Fine (1998). It was written by Dan Wilson and produced by Nick Launay.  A review of "Singing in My Sleep" in the August 1998, issue of Billboard said the song's intro is "a shapeship-like whir and a funny, plinking melody", but  ultimately, the track is "pure, mass-consumption pop."

Annie Lennox lends her haunting voice to his classic song from 1999, the turn of the millennium. "I Saved the World Today" is a song recorded by British pop music duo Eurythmics for their eighth studio album, Peace (1999). It was written and co-produced by band members Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. The unique vocals with the orchestra background makes this song feel melancholic, but the lyrics portray an optimistic tone. 

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