The Hebrew calendar (הלוח העברי ha'luach ha'ivri), or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portion, yahrzeits (dates to commemorate the death of a relative), and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses. In Israel, it is an official calendar for civil purposes and provides a time frame for agriculture. The current year of the Jewish calendar (16 September 2012 to 4 September 2013) is 5773.
The Hebrew calendar has evolved over time. For example, until the Tannaitic period (approximately 10–220 CE) the months were set by observation of a new crescent moon, with an additional month added every two or three years to correct for the difference between twelve lunar months and the solar year, and therefore, to keep Passover in the spring. The addition of the extra month was also based on observation of natural events, namely the ripening of the barley crop, the age of the kids, lambs and doves, the ripeness of the fruit trees, and the relation to the Tekufah (seasons). Through the Amoraic period (200 to 500 CE) and into the Geonic period, this system was displaced by mathematical rules. The principles and rules appear to have been settled by the time Maimonides compiled the Mishneh Torah in the 12th century.
Because of the roughly eleven-day difference between twelve lunar months and one solar year, the length of the Hebrew calendar year varies in the repeating 19-year Metonic cycle of 235 lunar months, with the intercalary month added according to defined rules every two or three years, for a total of 7 times per 19 years. Seasonal references in the Hebrew calendar reflect its development in the region east of the Mediterranean and the times and climate of the Northern Hemisphere. The Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 25+25/57 seconds than the present-day mean solar year, so that every 224 years, the Hebrew calendar will fall a full day behind the modern solar year, and about every 231 years it will fall a full day behind the Gregorian calendar year.
The present counting method for years use the Anno Mundi epoch (Latin for "in the year of the world", in Hebrew לבריאת העולם, "from the creation of the world"), abbreviated AM or A.M. and also referred to as the Hebrew era. Hebrew year 5772 began at sunset on 28 September 2011 and ended on 16 September 2012. Hebrew year 5773 began at sunset on 16 September 2012 and will end on 4 September 2013.
Famous quotes containing the words hebrew and/or calendar:
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
—Bible: Hebrew Proverbs 23:13-14.
“To divide ones life by years is of course to tumble into a trap set by our own arithmetic. The calendar consents to carry on its dull wall-existence by the arbitrary timetables we have drawn up in consultation with those permanent commuters, Earth and Sun. But we, unlike trees, need grow no annual rings.”
—Clifton Fadiman (b. 1904)