Monday 11 December 2017


Not only did the French Revolution of 1793 unseat God and king it also sought to redefine time and did so with its Revolutionary Calendar—the official civil calendar of the Republican government in use for about a dozen years until a compact between the Pope and Napoléon restored the traditional Gregorian calendar.
Wanting to strip the calendar of all royalist or religious contexts, anno domini was abandoned in favour of recording events either before or after the storming of the Bastille (sort of A.F. for after Ford in Brave New World or the Battle of Yavin in the Star Wars universe) with 1793 reset to year one. As part of a greater push towards decimalisation, a month consisted of three ten day weeks (with interstitial holidays peppered throughout) called décades and adapted from Greek and Latin numbers rather than mythological terms and dropped saints’ days in favour of terms from agriculture and domestic economics. The months themselves were rebranded according to the harvest or weather one might expect to encounter at that season. Although intuitive I suppose, it was all terribly complicated with neologisms for winter time Nivôse (Snowy), Pluviôse (Rainy) and Ventôse (Windy) and to be specific, today would be known as IX primidi (the first day of the ninth décade of the year) An 226 de la République Français, that falls in the month of Frimaire (from frimas for frost) and dedicated to Cire—that is wax. As with many other efforts at calendar reform or spelling reform, the change proved too disruptive despite appeal to reason and the best intentions and without government sanction quickly reverted to old ways.