Primidi, 1 Vendémiaire CCXVIII, day of Grapes

French Republican Calendar
The French Republican Calendar – Year III

Today, September 22, is the day of the September , when Autumn begins in the Northern (and Spring in the Southern) hemisphere. It was also the first day of the French Republican Calendar. On September 22, 1792 in France, the First Republic was born, and the new calendar (although it was fully conceived some months later only) started on this very same Equinox day.

The new calendar was part of a plan of rationalizing, standardizing, and secularizing systems of measurements named the Metric System, then the (S.I.). At the time in Europe, you would not have a same value for a French, British, Spanish or Italian league, mile, pound, ounce, gallon, whatever. Values would even change between counties or cities in a same country sometimes. A few years earlier then, French King Louis XVI had commissioned a group of scientists headed by to create a unified and rational system of measures. The Revolutionary Government intensified it.

French scientists decided modern values should be based as much as possible on number 10. Their work led to the present unification and rationalization of measurements, with the development of meter, kilogram, then the second, kelvin, ampere, candela, mole, etc. The metric system/S.I. is of widespread use in science, and it has been progressively adopted  in ordinary life by every country in the world but three: Liberia, Myanmar and the USA.

One attempt was a failure though: the , that lasted for about 13 years only (plus 18 days in 1871 during the Paris Commune) and never spread outside France. Every year was written in Roman letters (year CCXVIII begins today). It had twelve months of 30 days each, that were given new names based on seasons and nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris. For instance, Vendémiaire that begins today, means "the month of Winds". It obviously made the calendar pretty inaccurate in most countries, and especially in the Southern hemisphere.

Every months was divided into three decades, 'weeks' of 10 days called Primidi (first day), Duodi (second day), Tridi (third day) and so on. One Decadi every ten days instead of one Sunday every seven days was certainly another good reason for the new calendar to fail. Instead of Saints as in the Christian calendar, every day in the year was associated to a plant or a tool (Grape today for example).

    [BbN #10]

At the end of the year, 5 or 6 Complementary Days (or Sansculotides) were respectively called Celebration Day of Virtue, Talent, Labour, Convictions, Honours, and on lap years, Celebration of the Revolution.

Today is Primidi, 1er Vendémiaire CCXVIII, day of Grapes. Happy New Republican Year, everyone.

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