Above: Pope Gregory XIII chaired the commission to adopt our current calendar in 1582. Is it time to move on to something better?
Introducing the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar
Submitted by Daegog
Write-up by Squrlz
UNTIL DAEGOG MADE a submission about it, I'd never heard of the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, and I'm guessing it's new to most of you also. This weird but wonderful idea was first proposed in 2011 by two Johns Hopkins University professors, Richard Conn Henry and Steve Hanke, thus the name.
What is it? The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar (or HHPC, as enthusiasts call it) is a proposed reform to the Gregorian calendar we use today. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, where the days are continually sliding around from one year to the next ("What day of the week will Christmas be this year?"), the HHPC fixes the days of the week to the dates. For example, Christmas always falls on a Monday, as does New Year's Day. Any given date -- say July 4 -- will always be the same day of the week (a Thursday, in this case), no matter what the year is.
To accomplish this, the HHPC makes every third month 31 days long and all other months 30 days long. Every fifth or sixth year, the month of December gets an additional week inserted at the end of it.
The advantages of the design are numerous. The calendar becomes, in effect, permanent; every quarter would have the exact same number of days (excluding leap years), leading to easier and more accurate financial calculations; and events that need to be scheduled on the weekend or on any particular day of the week can be scheduled for the same date year after year.
It's a sensible approach that makes our current Gregorian calendar seem like the pounds, shillings, and pence of old English currency, something Thomas Jefferson found so inefficient and distasteful that he devised the decimal currency used in the U.S. today. The authors have claimed that if adopted worldwide, the HHPC approach would save enormous sums due to increased efficiency.
It's been eight years since the idea was proposed and, obviously, we aren't off the Gregorian calendar yet. As sensible as it is, will the HHPC ever manage to overcome our entrenched method of defining the years? It's hard to say; inertia and custom are powerful things, as the failure of the Dvorak keyboard attests.
Still, one can hope.
Links for more information follow.
"Changing Times" (paper first proposing the calendar on the Cato Institute website)
"Professors’ Proposed Calendar Synchronizes Dates With Days" (CNN)
"Hanke–Henry Permanent Calendar" (Wikipedia)