August Comte’s
Positivist Calendar

Since the Enlightenment, Philosophers and Scientists have been trying to make human life a little more rational. Decimal-based monetary systems, for example, began in the US in 1786, on the insistence of Thomas Jefferson. The system was adopted in France in 1793, with decimes and centimes.  These terms, meaning tenths and hundredths, became our dimes and cents.  The Italians didn't adopt it until 1862, and it didn't get to the British until 1971!

Similarly, the French introduced the metric system in 1795.  By the end of the 1900s, almost all countries have adopted it -- the US being the notable exception this time!

Far more resistant to "rationalization" has been time.  It does not seem that we will ever change the 60-second minute, 60-minute hour, and 24-hour day, but these are at least consistent and international.  The calendar has likewise resisted change, but not for a lack of ideas!  You see, the year of 365 days is 4 x 7 x 13 plus 1 (and another 1 on leap years), which means that there are several simple schemes we could be using.  For example, we could have four seasons of thirteen weeks of seven days each (plus one, and another on leap years).  Or....

August Comte, in 1849, published a 13 month calendar, which he called The Positivist Calendar.  It consisted of 13 months of 28 days each (exactly four weeks).  There was one extra day at the end of the year which had no weekday assigned to it, and one more extra day on leap years.  Every year begins on Monday, Moses 1.  It begins with1789 as year one, so the year 2000 would be 212.  Each month would look exactly like this:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Here are the names of the months Comte proposed:

Individual days were dedicated to significant persons in fields related to the month, e.g... It never caught on.

There were calendar suggestions both before and after Comte's.  Perhaps the most famous is the French Revolutionary Calendar.  Invented by a committee led by Fabre d'Églantine, it was adopted by the Convention in October, 1793.  The calendar was divided into twelve months of thirty days each, leaving five days (six in leap years) over at the end of the last month. These five or six days were to be known as the Sans-culottides, and were to be a series of national holidays. Each month had three ten-day weeks called décades named arithmetically--primidi, duodi, tridi, quartidi, quintidi, sextidi, septidi, octidi, nonidi, décadi. The last day, décadi, was designated a day of rest.  Dating was begun with Vendémiaire 1, year 1, corresponding to the fall equinox, September 22, 1792.  Each month looked like this:

primidi duodi tridi quartidi quintidi sextidi septidi octidi nonidi décadi
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

The names of the months:

        Vendémiaire (vintage)  sep 22 - oct 21
        Brumaire    (misty)    oct 22 - nov 20
        Frimaire    (frosty)   nov 21 - dec 20
        Nivôse      (snowy)    dec 21 - jan 19
        Pluviôse    (rainy)    jan 20 - feb 18
        Ventôse     (windy)    feb 19 - mar 20
        Germinal    (seeds)    mar 21 - apr 19
        Floréal     (blossoms) apr 20 - may 19
        Prairial    (meadows)  may 20 - jun 18
        Messidor    (harvest)  jun 19 - jul 18
        Thermidor   (hot)      jul 19 - aug 17
        Fructidor   (fruitful) aug 18 - sep 16

The Sans-culottides ran from sep 17 to sep 20, with sep 21 as leap day.  Sans-culottides literally means the time of no breeches.  The "No-Breeches" were the working class revolutionaries, who wore long pants instead of breeches (culottes) that tied or buttoned just below the knee, which is what upper class men wore.  These days were named...

Jour de la vertú (Virtue Day)
Jour du génie (Genius Day)
Jour du travail (Labor Day)
Jour de l'opinion (Reason Day)
Jour des récompenses (Rewards Day)
Jour de la révolution (Revolution Day) (the leap day)

It was used in France for twelve years, until Napoleon changed it back.

Much more recently, the World Calendar was introduced by Elisabeth Achelis in 1930.  She founded the World Calendar Association October 21 of the same year.  It was gaining great international support until World War II interrupted civilized discussion.  Reintroduced to the United Nations after the war, world-wide adoption was thwarted by the United States in 1955.  American politicians could not afford to alienate the religious right, who were upset by the idea that, once a year, there would be an extra day, making it eight days between one Sunday and the next -- not in keeping with Biblical tradition!  The organization moved to Ottawa and became the International World Calendar Association.  Sadly, the UN setback led to demoralization of World Calendar supporters.  Now, with the advent of the internet, there is again a small movement for adoption of the World Calendar voicing its support.

The World Calendar consists of 12 months, divided into four quarters.  Each quarter begins on a Sunday, with a 31-day month.  This is followed by two 30-day months.  At the end of the year, an extra day is appended to bring the total number of days to 365.  This is called World Day and does not have a weekday designation.  It is conceived of as an international holiday much like New Year's Eve.  Every fourth year, an extra day is added to the sixth month.  It too has no weekday designation, and is thought of as an international holiday.  By this method, we would have the same calendar for every year.
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa

1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29
*Plus World Day at the end of December every year, and Leap Day at the end of June every fourth year.

The World Calendar would present us with the fewest changes to how we perceive the weeks, months, and year, plus leaves us with four identical seasons or quarters -- a help in business finances!  Unfortunately, there is still enormous resistance to simple, sensible ideas like these!

For more information, see Rick McCarty's wonderful Home Page for Calendar Reform at